Azerbaijan: Community preparedness for water related stress would enable them to participate at risk mitigation processes

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Gabala, Azerbaijan: A workshop on flood forecasting and early warning system has kicked of today in Gabala city of Azerbaijan where UNDP and GEF are implementing a joint project in close collaboration with the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The workshop brought together local stakeholders, project beneficiaries, national and international experts, community leaders and project staff.

Climate change will especially affect the poor and vulnerable communities. UNDP implements this joint project to integrate climate change risks into water and flood management by local mountain communities in Azerbaijan. “Our objective is to reduce vulnerability to flooding and water stress of communities living in hazardous areas” – Mr. Mezahir Efendiyev, UNDP Strategic Partnership Advisor said in his welcoming speech to the workshop’s participants.

Modern integrated water management requires an appropriate institutional framework. The project agenda prepared new amendments to the National Water Code to address climate change through the normative legal acts. Mr. Efendiyev highlighted the necessity of a coordinated approach for innovative water management. “We have prepared documents that recommend central level institutional structure to fully support the implementation of integrated water resource management” – he said.

The workshop was held in the format of a group discussion. Participants shared their recommendations on early warning components such as risk assessment, monitoring and warning, communications and advocacy, and response capacity. Mr. Gunduz Hamzayev, Deputy Chief of the Head office on Regional Centers Management, Projects Coordination and on Educational Issues of the Emergency Situations Ministry briefed them on the activities to mitigate the risks occurred in this field. During the workshop, new early warning facilities provided by the project were handed out to community members.

Experts stressed the role of agricultural techniques for use in drought and water stress conditions. Full mobilization of community-based early warning system was suggested as a good tool for efficient flood forecasting. As a case study, experts selected Mikhligovaq community in Azerbaijan.

To test the communication chain and participants’ understanding of discussed issues, a simulation exercise run with Water Users Association members was held at the end of the workshop.