Georgia moves on Sendai Framework

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
Volunteers cleaning up after last month's floods in Tblisi, Georgia. (Photo: UNISDR)
Volunteers cleaning up after last month's floods in Tblisi, Georgia. (Photo: UNISDR)

TBLISI, 27 July 2015 – The city of Tblisi is moving to strengthen its readiness to deal with natural and technological hazards while memories of last month’s flash flooding remain fresh.

The leadership of the Georgian capital, along with their counterparts in Gori from the eastern part of the country, have also expressed pride in applying the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – the wide-ranging international agreement endorsed last month by the UN General Assembly – at the local level.

Both cities are undertaking comprehensive risk assessment as a precursor to forming risk-resilient City Development Plans. The exercise is broad-ranging including analysis of institutions, financing, hazards and risk information, infrastructure protection, building regulations, architecture, land use planning, strengthening ecosystems, effective preparedness and public awareness, health, education, community services, and social development.

The Tblisi floods killed 19 people with three still missing and caused more than US$45 million worth of damage. Footage of various animals – lions, tigers, bears, wolves, a crocodile and even a hippopotamus – roaming the streets of the city was beamed around the globe.

The Deputy Mayor of Tbilisi, Mr. Irakli Lekvinadze, said the learning from the flash flood experience ‘would be an important part’ of the city’s planning for resilient and sustainable development.

“The relevance and the value of this project has increased manifold with the recent devastating flash flood. That experience will help us to arrive at action plans which reflect the most urgent priorities of Tbilisi,” he said.

The Mayor of Gori, Mr. Zurab Jirkvelishvili, echoed the importance of the process: “These action plans which will be developed with the help of the Gori City Development Agency, will not remain on paper, but will be realistic assessments to strengthen the resilience of the city to disasters.”

Tblisi, with a population of one million, faces several hazard threats, including floods, landslides, and earthquakes. Gori, with a population of 54,000 people, faces a similar hazard profile.

Mr. Nodar Kutibashvili, the Deputy Director, Civil Protection, Emergency Management Department, of the Ministry of Internal Affairs welcomed the push for greater resilience at the local level.

“Up until now there has been no specific plan for disaster prevention in cities in Georgia,” he said. “The recent 2014 approved law demanded that all cities and urban territories in the country prepare disaster risk management and disaster response plans. This project provides an invaluable experience and example for the many municipalities across Georgia.”

The importance of such local leadership and local capacity, evident in both Georgian cities, is one of the key themes of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, adopted in March and endorsed by the UN General Assembly in May.

Tbilisi and Gori are two of the eight cities in UNISDR’s Resilient Cities project in the Central Asia and South Caucasus Region, which is supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), under its Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO).

The other cities involved in the initiative are: Berd and Noyemberyan (Armenia); Ridder and Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan); and Bishkek and Karakol (Kyrgyzstan).

UNISDR is providing technical support to each city as they utilize the Local Government Self-Assessment Tool (LG-SAT) and follow the ‘Ten Essentials’ of the thriving Making Cities Resilient campaign.

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