Georgia gets ready for World Conference
TBLISI, 8 December 2014 – The Georgian government is committed to pursue an ambitious approach in disaster risk management that says ‘prevention is better than cure’.
The wisdom of the current policy draws on the hard facts of disaster losses over the past 40 years: thousands of casualties and a huge US$14 billion bill in economic costs.
“Ten years ago the phrase ‘disaster risk reduction’ was virtually unheard of in Georgia,” said the country’s Focal Point for the Hyogo Framework for Action, Ms Olga Shashkina.
“Now ‘disaster risk reduction’ is a development priority for the Government: we are striving to make it a regular part of policy, thinking and – increasingly – action. There is no doubt that we still have a long way to go but the progress that has been made over the past few years is really encouraging,” continued Ms. Shashkina, who is based in the Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources.
The Government’s Statement at the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee Meeting for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction - www.wcdrr.org - in Geneva last month emphasized Georgia’s shift from an approach that reactively manages disasters to one that proactively manages disaster risk.
“Georgia augmented allocations of funds from the state budget for monitoring, forecast and prevention measures in the sphere of environmental and disaster risk management. Our goal is to move to a proactive Disaster Risk Reduction approach,” the Statement said.
“The Parliament of Georgia has adopted a new ‘Law of Georgia on Civil Safety’. It legally covers emergency management framework and its cycle: prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.”
Looking ahead to the World Conference, to be held in Sendai, Japan, in March 2015, Georgia urged global DRR policy to embark on a similar transformational path.
“Reducing vulnerability in today’s changing global landscape is a cross-cutting and complex development issue requiring an unprecedented effort and international community needs to renew its commitment and prioritize disaster risk reduction on the global agenda,” the Government’s statement said.
Georgia, with a population of 4.5 million people, faces a range of natural hazards, including floods, flash floods, landslides, mudflows, snow avalanches, earthquakes, hail, heavy rains, storm winds, and droughts.
A Disaster Risk Reduction Capacity Assessment Report from UNDP Georgia, released two months ago says the natural hazards “coupled with significant levels of exposure and vulnerability have a substantial negative impact on the national economy”.
Despite such a challenging context Ms Shashkina remains optimistic that recent progress can be maintained or even increased.
“There are now DRR units in various ministries which work alongside their colleagues to influence policy. There is even a DRR library housed within the Ministry of Education to strengthen the national safety effort with children. All of this was unheard of just a few years ago. I am sure we will see more encouraging developments after the World Conference in Sendai.”