Armenia marks International Day for Disaster Reduction
Yerevan, 13 October 2010 – The Government of Armenia and the United Nations marked today the International Day for Disaster Reduction by joining the United Nations International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) global campaign “Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready!” that addresses issues of local governance and urban risk.
Cities today are bigger and growing faster than ever in human history. Well over 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities. Yet they are also high-risk areas because of their very rapid growth. Many governments, even with the best of intentions, cannot keep up with the enormous growth and pressure on infrastructure. The campaign this year is calling on city leaders, the everyday population, civil society, and those engaged in science and technology to really engage with local governments.
“We are calling on people to use well-known methods for risk assessment, improving urban planning, and strengthening the coordination and institutions to train citizens to listen to early warning signals. We are calling on them to ensure that early warning systems are in place,” UN Assistant Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlstrom said in her statement on 13 October 2010.
Mayors and their local governments are both the key targets and drivers of the campaign. Local government officials are faced with the threat of disasters on a day-to-day basis and need better access to policies and tools to effectively deal with them. The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005- 2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters offers solutions for local governments and local actors to manage and reduce urban risk.
UN Agencies in Armenia, including UNDP, UNICEF and WHO have been working with the Ministry of Emergency Situations and its services and other government agencies, scientific and academic entities and civil society to contribute to the strengthening of national capacities for the disaster risk reduction and disaster management system.
“The strong interest, political commitment and enthusiasm of the Government is very much appreciated. Some important initiatives launched by the Armenian Government this year, including plans to establish a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, a multi-stakeholder coordination forum that will address all issues of disaster risk reduction, and elaborate and implement the national disaster risk reduction strategy, demonstrate that disaster risk reduction is a priority for the Armenian Government and it strives to protect its population from disasters,” UN Acting Resident Co-ordinator, UNICEF Representative in Armenia Laylee Moshiri emphasized, addressing participants of the event, including Minister of Emergency Situations, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, a representative from the Yerevan Municipality, the Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, donor organizations and the NGO community.
“Formulation of an effective and functional disaster risk reduction system in Armenia has an important role not only for disaster risk management but also for reducing poverty, social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities and for the sustainable development of the country”, Minister of Emergency Situations of Armenia Armen Yeritsyan emphasized in his speech.
Following the opening, UNICEF with support from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) and in partnership with UNDP, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Emergency Situations presented a seminar on “Strengthening Partnerships for Disaster Risk Reduction”. "The European Union supports disaster preparedness efforts worldwide, and aims to build a culture of safety and resilience among the population and the authorities in the South Caucasus. The DIPECHO programme for the South Caucasus is an evidence of the importance we give to disaster risk reduction in this region," said Raul de Luzenberger, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia. The European Union has allocated €2 million for disaster preparedness in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan through its DIPECHO programme. The seminar discussed establishment of an effective and sustainable disaster risk reduction system that will allow to systematically address existing and emerging disaster risks in the country, inclusion of disaster risk in school education and implementation of international commitments under the 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action.
“It is well-known that we cannot stop natural events from happening. But we can prevent natural events from becoming natural disasters. With better planning, better building and construction norms, better communication, preparedness and response capacities, natural events will take place but people will be safe from harm, homes, hospitals and other emergency facilities will stand, livelihoods will be protected,” UN Acting Resident Coordinator, UNICEF Representative Laylee Moshiri stressed.