Disaster Risk Reduction
Natural disasters have become more frequent and severe in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
In the past few years the region has experienced extreme cold weather, heat waves, floods, land- and mudslides, avalanches, forest fires and earthquakes. Earthquakes are the most dangerous of all hazards. They destroy roads, buildings and other critical infrastructure and also produce secondary hazards such as landslides, rock-falls and avalanches. In all probability, devastating earthquakes can be expected in any of the region’s countries in the future.
With regard to the natural hazards associated with hydro-meteorogical conditions, climate change is expected to further exacerbate the situation, potentially resulting in the increased frequency and severity of disasters.
In view of these risks, UNICEF has broadened the scope of its emergency work in the region and placed a stronger emphasis on disaster risk reduction. UNICEF’s work is guided by and contributes to the Hyogo Framework for Action, a global road map for reducing disaster risks which was endorsed by 168 countries in January 2005 in Kobe, Japan. In particular, UNICEF is contributing to the the framework`s priority actions:
In one-third of the countries in the region, UNICEF is implementing a dedicated disaster risk reduction programme. Focusing primarily on the education sector, the programme is enhancing national policies and capacities to better integrate elements of risk reduction within national education curricula, teacher training and day-to-day management of schools. UNICEF is closely collaborating with key government agencies, especially in the education and emergency sectors, to support critical policy, legislative and systemic improvements which directly contribute to the national commitments.
Since 2007, UNICEF has been implementing a programme in the region, primarily funded by the European Commission`s Humanitarian Aid Office, called DIPECHO enabling communities and institutions to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to disasters, thereby building a safer and more protective environment for children.
Below is an overview of the scope, approaches and activities of this programme starting from the most recent:
Starting from June, 2012 ECHO, the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Commission, and UNICEF are joining efforts in the area of disaster risk reduction in education. ECHO is contributing 1.6 million Euros and UNICEF 282,359 Euros to the project called “Supporting Disaster Risk Reduction amongst vulnerable communities and institutions in Central Asia and the South Caucasus.” It is part of a global program reaching eight regions.
Within this partnership, ECHO and UNICEF are working in seven countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan to improve disaster preparedness and risk reduction.
School and pre-school children, young people, parents, communities, teachers, principals and other school staff as well as government policy makers and sector managers at regional and local levels will benefit.
Activities to be undertaken are:
UNICEF worked in seven countries across South Caucasus and Central Asia: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on disaster preparedness and risk reduction, primarily in the education sector. Similar to the previous initiatives, the programme addressed policy, institutional arrangements, and school- and community-level activities, raising awareness and soliciting commitment from respective governments. It implemented:
In the framework of DIPECHO project and as a regional DRR initative in March 2011 a regional workshop on knowledge management was organized. Its aim was to facilitate exchange of information, experiences and resources between the seven countries, thereby enhancing the overall impact and quality of the UNICEF DIPECHO project. This networking was particularly valued and appreciated by the government counterparts, many of whom are dealing with similar issues and challenges in their respective countries. Moreover, the meeting helped in further strengthening UNICEF’s relationship with government representatives as well as in bridging the cooperation and understanding between the ministries i.e. emergency and education.
Download the Summary report on Central Asia and South Caucasus Knowledge Management Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction in Education.
UNICEF worked in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to integrate key principles of risk reduction, community safety and disaster preparedness into the education sector. It assisted national efforts to ensure the safety and protection of children against future disasters in the region. This contributed to priority actions under the Hyogo Framework for Action and specifically focused on “Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels”.
Manuals and other teaching materials were developed in national languages and in Russian, and widely distributed. These materials included, Minimum standards for education in emergencies, chronic situations and early reconstruction, School as Shelter and the Riskland board game.
Information, guidance and tools were provided to nearly 10,000 teachers, and 1,124 school staff and disaster management officials. These were instrumental in assisting more than 380,000 children and 240,000 parents to protect themselves more effectively from the impact of future disasters. School preparedness plans, emergency school committees, and school emergency brigades were introduced as a foundation for school-based disaster preparedness.
At a regional conference on disaster risk reduction in December 2009, a compendium, prepared jointly with UN-ISDR Regional Bureau for Central Asia, was presented which illuminated good practices, lessons learned and case studies from within the Central Asia region. The project provided significant support to existing inter-governmental cooperation and collaboration to address disaster risks and vulnerabilities in the region.
Within six highly disaster-prone provinces of Uzbekistan, UNICEF worked to strengthen risk reduction in vulnerable communities, especially among women and children. With national, local and community support, the programme focused on developing children’s understanding of risk reduction and skills in disaster preparedness in the event of an earthquake.
A central objective was to re-orientate the government's strategy from disaster response to participatory disaster preparedness, incorporating disaster risk reduction.
Public education was the key. Through participatory action planning and training activities, whole communities learned how to minimize the effects of hazards and developed skills to reduce the risks of disaster. The programme demonstrated the potential for multilevel, simultaneous, public outreach on a nationwide basis. The Uzbekistan Ministry of Emergencies Civil Protection Department provides a foundation for national implementation. It links very effectively through local government to the makhalla (neighbourhood) structure within villages, towns and cities, incorporating schools and health facilities at every level.
Through this programme, UNICEF pioneered a very productive working relationship with an important Uzbekistan government agency. With national and international partners and the European Commission’s Director General as a donor, it represented a major step forward in multilateral collaboration. Providing impetus for building multi-agency awareness, it significantly advanced the objectives of the Hyogo Framework for Action and created a coordination and implementation mechanism for a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Updated 28 January 2012
GENEVA, 24 July 2012 — The first “Evaluation Brief” in the region focuses on UNICEF - DIPECHO`s Disaster Risk Reduction. The programme aims to increase resilience and reduce vulnerability of local communities and national institutions mainly through disaster mitigation and preparedness activities within the education sector in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.Click here to download the pdf.
Children and disasters: Building resilience through education
This publication provides a brief overview of major hazards, disaster risks and recommendations on how to support and build on local and national initiatives to reduce the risks through education.
Hyogo Framework of Action
Children learn to prepare for disasters
Click here to find out more. Download booklet and game.
Press releases on DRR in 2012
OneMinutesJr on DRR in 2012
Listen to Anne Clear, Desk Officer for Central Asia comment on how EU-UNICEF partnership in disaster risk reduction has made an impact on children`s lives.