Nick Powell, Political Editor, highlighted the role of the Centre of Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction in Central Asia at a Brussels conference about a EU-funded project to increase disaster and climate resilience.
Central Asia already feels the severe effects of global warming. This was the message that Baimukhan Margulan (Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to EU) delivered to the conference on climate resilience and strengthening disaster resilience in Central Asia.
The event, which was jointly held by the European Union (UN) and the United Nations, illustrated this cooperation. It is also demonstrated by the work done by the Centre for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction in Almaty, Kazakhstan. However, its remit covers the entire of Central Asia.
Serik Aubakirov (the centre’s deputy director) explained the centre’s work in responding to earthquake-related emergencies as well as climate change-induced events like forest fires.
A regional coordination body is required to address the risks of transboundary and large-scale emergencies. This service is provided by the Centre, which acts as the secretariat for a regional forum that brings together emergency officials from five Central Asian republics. It is a regional resource center that includes a scientific and technological council as well as a list of experts in disaster risk mitigation.
The analysis and recommendations of the study improve national strategies to reduce disaster risk. They stress-test existing arrangements such as emergency preparedness, including readiness for rescue operations. Drones are being used to detect and respond to disaster risks.
The Centre manages a regional early warning system, and facilitates the exchange of information on actual and threatened disasters. An agreement has been reached on a protocol for the integration and operation of earthquake warning systems. Between 2016 and 2022 the Centre and five national emergency authorities implemented more than 30 projects and programmes in disaster risk reduction and emergency situations.
Regular meetings are held between ministers and experts of the five republics. There is constant communication and cooperation. This capacity building will save lives and coordinate international humanitarian and technological assistance. It will also create a mutual notification system to alert others of transboundary emergency risks.
The European Union has allocated a budget of EUR3,750,000 to fund the Centre’s work over three years. This programme does not only promote cooperation between Central Asian countries, but also encourages community engagement and builds resilience at the local level.
Terhi Hakala (EU Special Representative for Central Asia) stated that disaster risk reduction in this region is a multi-sectoral issue, covering water, agriculture and energy security as well as health. She said that the programmes are designed to strengthen Central Asia’s disaster reduction systems and increase climate resilience.
Marat Kuldikov (Kazakhstan’s Deputy Minister for Emergency Situations) addressed the conference and stressed the importance and role of the Centre for Emergency Situations and Disaster Risk Reduction, Almaty, as an early warning system for Central Asia.
He is a participant in the community engagement component of the programme. Most recently, he answered questions from the East Kazakhstan public. He discussed the steps taken to reduce flooding risks and prevent fires, as well as other emergencies.
“In 10 months, the death toll from emergencies in the region was 29.8%. More than 1100 emergency calls have been made. He said that department units had performed more than 6000 visits and saved and evacuated over a thousand people.
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