GIZ, Regional Centre for Hydrology and Central Asian countries map out joint actions for disaster prevention

Experts from Germany and Central Asia identify climate change adaptation strategies through sustainable resource management and disaster prevention in the region.

Almaty, Kazakhstan, November 24th – Today’s Global Community is a witness to appalling natural disasters, such as frequent floods and many other calamities that have only increased in recent years due to Climate Change. According to various forecasts the trend is likely to continue and intensify. Such natural disasters affect the livelihood and safety of people, and the number of victims will only grow as the world’s population-density continues to increase. Consequently, disaster management has become one of the priority directions in international, regional and national programmes.

This issue is also relevant in the context of Central Asia, where severely inclement weather in one country can affect the entire region, especially when unfolding in cross-border areas. Climate change is likely to aggravate Central Asia’s already very high risk of natural disasters like mudflows, avalanches, floods and droughts due to variations in precipitation patterns and the melting of glaciers. Both climate change and natural disasters are characterized by their cross-boundary hazard potential. Therefore, efficient disaster management in the region requires strong cross-border coordination and cooperation. The process of disaster management includes several steps: prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.

In the pursuit to promote sustainable resource management and disaster prevention in Central Asia, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH conducted a 2-day regional seminar entitled “Adaptation to Climate Change through Sustainable Resource Management and Cross-border Cooperation for Disaster Prevention in Central Asia” and a subsequent planning workshop in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 14-16 November. The project places focus solely on prevention measures, namely the development of long-term prevention strategies in the Central Asian region. It has to be noted that prevention itself does not only include the construction of dikes, but also sustainable management of natural resources (e.g. soil conservation, forest, range management) and land use planning that is compatible with the risks (e.g. avoiding settlements in flood prone areas).

The event was organized by GIZ under financial support of BMZ (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung – Federal German Ministry for economic cooperation and development) in cooperation with the Regional Centre for Hydrology (RCH) and the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC). The seminar brought together representatives of Central Asian public authorities, non-governmental organizations, international and regional experts.

The aim of the project is to raise awareness and develop human resource capacity in the countries of Central Asia including Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The seminar was held with the objective to raise awareness and build political-scientific dialogue on cross-border cooperation.

The regional seminar gave an overview of the current situation regarding natural disaster risks in CA and provided an outlook on the possible future situation in the context of the intensification of Climate Change. The seminar discussed geo-risks in Central Asia, the current state of monitoring and forecasting of geo-disasters in the region, CA examples of promising solutions for addressing geo-risks, European and international experience of managing geo-risks. In addition, the seminar participants were offered an opportunity to develop an appropriate gap analysis and propose activities for capacity development in the field.

International experience has demonstrated that prevention measures – including sustainable land management, risk analysis, natural disaster monitoring and forecasting procedures as well as raising awareness among target groups – contribute to mitigating disaster risks. At the same time, participants of the seminar noted that some of these mechanisms were either missing or required substantial improvements. An analysis carried out during the seminar has identified several gaps in disaster prevention systems in the countries of Central Asia:
– A prevailing lack of awareness among the general public and decision makers on the envisaged effects of Climate Change on natural disaster risk patterns in the region;
– The crucial role of mass media in raising said awareness is neglected;
– The cross-border nature of the risks is overlooked;
– A pressing need for mainstreaming sustainable land and water management practices as a means of long-term disaster prevention;
– The lack of operational disaster monitoring systems, etc.
It has also been noted that the efficiency of disaster prevention depended on cooperation of policy makers, implementers and researchers, who benefit from synergies and networking effects.
The implementation of an integrated approach to disaster prevention activities reduces vulnerability of the countries concerned. In this way it is a key factor for sustainable development and helps to minimize the loss of human life, economic and material resources.

In summation, the seminar has once again reiterated the need for international dialog, highlighted the similarities of the problems faced in different countries and that international dialogue and cooperation is the way to resolve those. Presentations by European participants of the seminar demonstrated that disaster prevention in Central Europe became a crucial motivation to initiate an international dialogue at the technical level that resulted in operational international cooperation for prevention of natural disasters.

Notes to Editor:
All Central Asian countries except Turkmenistan have signed the Hyogo Framework for Action. This underlines the commitment of the respective governments to integrate Disaster Risk Management (DRM) into their national development plans. Great progress in the cross-border coordination of DRM with regard to earthquake hazards was achieved in the framework of the “Cross-Border Natural Disaster Prevention in Central Asia” program, implemented by InWEnt and GFZ in 2008-2010.

Nevertheless, there is still a lack of efficient and sustainable implementation of regulations and administrative procedures as well as cross-border cooperation and implementation of international agreements on DRM.
Additionally there is a need for awareness building for the potential of sustainable land management to reduce vulnerability.

Additional materials:
1)Interviews with participants
3)Photo report
4)Seminar Programme
5))Planning Workshop Programme
6)List of Participants
7)List of Bio Notes

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