Uzbekistan moves towards proactive approach to Disaster Risk Management
50 years ago, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake devastated Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital and currently the most populated city in Central Asia. Today, with more than half the population and half the economy located in areas of high seismic risk, earthquakes remain a considerable threat to development gains and community’s livelihoods in Uzbekistan. Similarly, a risk assessment developed by the World Bank and GFDRR’s Innovation Lab showed that, in Uzbekistan, the annual average population affected by earthquakes is about 1 million and annual average affected gross domestic product (GDP) is $2 billion. The rapid urbanization rate, aging infrastructure and demographic growth will accentuate this trend in the absence of risk mitigation.
In recognition of its high exposure and vulnerability of its population and its economy, the Government of Uzbekistan has made significant steps by shifting from a reactive approach (focused on emergency responses) to a proactive approach that aims at reducing disaster risks. For instance, in 2006, the Government of Uzbekistan adopted the State Program on Earthquake Risk Reduction, which was aptly complemented by the 2011 Program on the Preparedness of the Population to Respond Emergency Situations Caused by Earthquakes.
Actionable data facilitates risk-informed investments
Building on this momentum, the World Bank in close collaboration with the GFDRR and the Government of Japan, recently launched its first disaster risk management (DRM) program in Uzbekistan. The program’s launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Tashkent earthquake, serving as a timely reminder of the devastating effects of natural disasters and the importance of investing in resilience. The Ministry of Emergency Situations (MoES) of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be the World Bank’s main partner and coordinate the Strengthening Disaster Resilience Program implemented over the next 30 months. The Strengthening Disaster Resilience Program in Uzbekistan aims at enhancing the capacity of the Government of Uzbekistan by identifying, prioritizing, and planning for the implementation of disaster preparedness measures (including the crisis management system) and seismic risk reduction investments, policies and other related measures by:
- Building capacity for disaster risk management.
- Supporting risk identification to strengthen public facilities.
- Strengthening crisis management systems through disaster preparedness.
- Understanding fiscal impacts of disasters and promoting economic opportunities.
Capturing Best Practices and Knowledge through Partnerships
The Strengthening Resilience Program was made possible with the support of the "Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming DRM in Developing Countries" through the DRM Hub, Tokyo and other donors that support technical assistance, pilot projects, thematic initiatives, knowledge mobilization, and capacity building along the four pillars of the DRM framework described in the Sendai Report: Risk Identification, Risk Reduction, Preparedness, and Financial Protection (with an emphasis on ex-ante measures).
The Uzbekistan technical assistance program builds on the Central Asia Earthquake Risk Reduction Forum supported by the World Bank, the Government of Japan and GFDRR in October 2015. This collaborative effort that reviewed across Central Asia ongoing earthquake risk reduction efforts, their potential fiscal impacts, and stimulated dialogue on risk reduction initiatives among policy makers and practitioners in the region. Over 70 policy-makers, experts, and practitioners from governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as development partner representatives, international experts, regional research and academic institutions, universities, civil society groups, media, and World Bank staff attended this Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan.