Sendai Framework takes root in Central Asia

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Office in Incheon for Northeast Asia and Global Education and Training Institute for Disaster Risk Reduction
Mayor Ryskul Urkalyevich Kalygulov of  Karakol, Kyrgyzstan: 'The Sendai Framework is  helping our city decide what needs to be done to reduce our disaster risk.' (Photo: UNISDR)
Mayor Ryskul Urkalyevich Kalygulov of Karakol, Kyrgyzstan: 'The Sendai Framework is helping our city decide what needs to be done to reduce our disaster risk.' (Photo: UNISDR)

ALMATY, 11 June 2015 – Those who doubt that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction translates into a useful policy document at the grassroots level should take a trip to Karakol, in North-eastern Kyrgyzstan, and spend some time with the city’s Mayor Ryskul Urkalyevich Kalygulov.

The leader of Kyrgyzstan’s fourth largest city has been further inspired to strengthen his city’s resilience after representing his municipality at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Sendai, Japan, in March.

“After returning from Japan we have had a major campaign to disseminate the main messages of the Sendai Framework to our population through the local media and various communications. We have done this because it is an important guide to help our city decide what needs to be done to reduce our disaster risk,” Mayor Kalygulov said.

“Being in Sendai was a very good opportunity to learn from the experience of other cities and how they have developed their capacity in the face of many challenges. This is very valuable since we have returned to Karakol.”

Mayor Kalygulov was speaking at the ‘Urban Risk Reduction: Making Cities Resilient to Disaster’ workshop, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which attracted 31 senior city officials from eight Central Asian and Southern Caucuses cities: Berd and Noyemberyan (Armenia); Gori and Tblisi (Georgia); Ridder and Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan); and Bishkek and Karakol (Kyrgyzstan).

Karakol, formerly known as Przhevalsk, is situated at the eastern tip of Issyk Kul Lake, 150km from the border with China and 380km from the capital Bishkek. It is at risk from several hazards including earthquakes, landslides, flooding and avalanches.

The city is a tourism hub for skiing and mountain pursuits. However, other sectors of the economy, which is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are less buoyant. The city of 65,000 people is increasingly challenged to retain its younger population. Mayor Kalygulov sees his city’s resilience agenda as a vital part of safeguarding the future health and prosperity of Karakol.

During the forum, the various city leaders mapped and assessed their municipality’s disaster risk and identified areas to strengthen their resilience. On return to their cities they will develop more detailed action plans. UNISDR, with the support of two consultant city DRR experts – one working in Armenia and Georgia, the other in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – will support them.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction highlights the importance of local leadership and local capacity to achieve its main goal of reducing disaster risk and losses.

The Head of UNISDR in Central Asia and the Southern Caucuses, Ms Madhavi Malalgoda Ariyabandu, said the officials from the eight cities “are an example for the region and the rest of the world in taking the lead to strengthen the resilience of their cities to disasters”.

“During this partnership we are sharing with you a methodology that is tried and tested after use by cities all around the world. However, this is only a tool and it is your experience and commitment that will make it real and useful for your own cities.”

Mayor Harutyan Manucharyan – local leader of Berd, a municipality of 8,000 people in the north-east of Armenia – emphasized the need for resilience plans to incorporate lessons from the past.

“Fortunately we escaped the worst of the devastation of the big earthquake of 1988 in our country (which killed an estimated 25,000 people) but it showed clearly the need for us to strengthen what I can call our critical infrastructure such as kindergartens, schools and other important facilities,” Mayor Manucharyan said.

Other senior representatives at the forum, which was facilitated by UNISDR’s Global Education and Training Institute (GETI) and supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), were: Mayor Vanush Amiraghyan (Noyemberyan, Armenia), Deputy Mayor Giorgi Razmadze (Gori, Georgia), Deputy Mayor Baurzhan Kurmanbayev (Ridder, Kazakhstan), Deputy Mayor Temir Emilov (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan), and First Vice Mayor Kolbai Karasartov (Karakol, Kyrgyzstan).

The training was based on the Ten Essentials of UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign, which now has 2,561 members globally.

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