ECHO boosts Resilient Cities campaign

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific

ALMATY, 12 January 2015 – Two capital cities, Tbilisi and Bishkek, are among eight towns and cities from Central Asia and the Caucasus, joining UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign in the new year.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) have agreed a new partnership to strengthen the resilience of cities to disasters in Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

The region is exposed to a range of natural and technological hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, mud and debris flows, avalanches, floods, drought and extreme temperatures inflicting serious human and economic losses. Risks and exposure to risk are exacerbated by the rapid growth of urban population and climate change.

Over the 30-year period from 1980, 14 million people were affected by 131 major disaster events with economic losses of $3.8 billion. The destructive earthquake in Spitak, Armenia in 1988 and the extreme cold spell across Central Asia in 2008, are compelling examples proving the importance of strengthening the resilience of communities in the region, specifically at the local level.

Eight cities and towns from across the region are now joining the campaign: Noyemberyan and Berd in Armenia; Tbilisi and Gori in Georgia; Oskemen and Ridder in Kazakhstan; and Bishkek and Kara-Kol in Kyrgyzstan.

The initiative, under the auspices of ECHO’s Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO), represents a big boost for UNISDR’s ‘Making Cities Resilient – My City is Getting Ready’ campaign which has over 2,400 participants around the world.

Ms. Madhavi Malalgoda Ariyabandu, UNISDR regional coordinator, said: “These cities and towns are committing to a ten-point checklist of actions which help them to become resilient to disasters and to manage their growth in a sustainable way. The campaign helps participants to become better organized and to identify key priorities for action for risk reduction. They can also benefit from the shared experience of other participants facing similar challenges. It is a very dynamic and interactive campaign.”

The programme, titled ‘Strengthened Disaster Risk Reduction in Central Asia and the Caucasus through greater fostering of the Hyogo Framework for Action priorities’, seeks to strengthen the integration of disaster risk reduction into national and local policy and development.

The partnership will support the building of local capacity to assess risks of natural hazards, and update action plans which are disaster risk inclusive; increase accessibility of international expertise in disaster risk reduction; foster exchange of experiences and good practices between municipalities and local governments in the region; and signing up of more cities in the region to the cities campaign.

UNISDR will coordinate with national disaster management authorities, national platforms for disaster risk reduction and other relevant government and non-government agencies.

The partnership will be implemented in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan until December 2015.

The European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is one of the biggest donors for humanitarian aid worldwide. With its funding, nearly 20 million victims of natural or man-made hazards are helped each year in about 70 countries. The aid is distributed through 200 partner organizations (including the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,specialized UN agencies, and European NGOs) impartially to those who need it most.

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