Central Asia, South Caucasus craft Sendai roadmap
TBILISI, 11 November 2015 – Officials from Central Asia and the South Caucasus have come together to craft a roadmap to make the region’s cities more resilient by implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Drawing delegates from host country Georgia and Caucasus neighbour Armenia, as well as Central Asian states Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the intensive one-day session in Tbilisi is taking stock of an existing project that has given them a springboard for future action.
“We are on the frontline for disaster risk,” said Mr. Davit Narmania, Mayor of Tbilisi, whose hilly city was battered by floods in June that claimed 19 lives, saw escaped animals from the zoo roaming the streets and inflicted damage worth US$28 million.
“I believe that the Resilient Cities Project is a successful project and that it will achieve its goals, which means saving lives and protecting infrastructure,” he added, noting that Tbilisi is undertaking a radical reassessment of the risks it faces and the actions needed.
The Resilient Cities Project in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, supported financially by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), was launched in October 2014 under the terms of the Sendai Framework’s predecessor agreement, the 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action.
A new version is due to be rolled out after the current one wraps up at the end of this year, and the Tbilisi meeting aims to identify priorities for action.
“Disaster risk reduction is a significant issue for all of us,” said ECHO representative Ms. Ketevan Lomsadze. “Although it is impossible to prevent a hazard, its impact can be reduced and mitigated.”
An extreme and changing climate, breakneck construction in earthquake-risk areas, and emergencies triggered by manmade hazards are threatening urban communities around the globe – raising the spectre of wider shocks, given the role of cities as economic drivers.
Central Asia and the South Caucasus are no exception. They have high exposure to a range of hazards, including earthquakes, floods, landslides, mudslides, avalanches and sand storms. The region’s urban population is growing, more than 30 percent of its population is estimated to live below the poverty line, and there is significant internal rural-urban and cross-border movement of people.
The ECHO-funded project has so far been implemented in eight cities: Berd and Noyemberyan in Armenia; Tbilisi and Gori in Georgia; Bishkek and Karakol in Kyrgyzstan; and Ust-Kamenogorsk and Ridder in Kazakhstan.
It has worked on creating local capacity for periodic assessment of disaster risk and vulnerability, as well as the development of plans of action for strengthening the resilience of cities’ local population, infrastructure and community services and assets to disasters.
Its focus is across the board, by integrating disaster risk reduction in key development sectors, beyond the emergency response sector. It has done by involving national governments, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, community representatives and other stakeholders at the national and local levels alike.
The Sendai Framework, adopted by the international community in March this year, is the most wide-ranging international agreement on disaster risk reduction to date.
It has seven targets. The first four hinge on substantial reductions in global disaster mortality, the number of people affected, economic losses, and damage to critical infrastructure. The remaining three seek an increase in the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020, strengthened international cooperation for developing countries, and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments.
“There’s a growing realization that, like in medicine, prevention is better than cure when it comes to disasters,” said Mr. Jerry Velasquez, Chief of Advocacy and Outreach at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).