What are the needs?
People living in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are regularly hit by natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, landslides, mud-and-debris flows, drought, avalanches and extreme temperatures. Climate change is expected to intensify the vulnerabilities and exposure to hazards in the coming years, and will subsequently result in the need for greater adaptation and assistance in the Southern Caucasus region.
High risks, limited institutional capacity to address such risks and a lack of preparedness of local communities have led to significant disasters in the last three decades, such as the Spitak earthquake in Armenia in 1988.
How are we helping?
The vulnerability of the Southern Caucasus region prompted the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) to extend its disaster preparedness programme, DIPECHO, to the region in 2010. Since then, two DIPECHO cycles have been completed, comprising of eight projects and amounting to a total of €5 million.
The disaster preparedness projects have focused on increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability of local communities and institutions by supporting strategies that enable them to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to natural disasters. The success of the projects in the Southern Caucasus region is based on the approach of combining community based activities with policy development work, which further expands and includes disaster management and risk reduction in education and national security planning.
In the current funding cycle, which will run until 2015, ECHO is financing community-based projects that increase the resilience of the population through simple, inexpensive measures such as disaster mapping, evacuation plans, building of safe havens and the pre-stocking of food. ECHO also continues to fund school-based preparedness projects, and advocate with national and regional authorities to integrate disaster risk reduction into school curricula and general school activities.