Brussels, 5 August 2005 - The European Commission has approved a €3.5 million humanitarian aid package to continue providing disaster prevention and preparedness activities to the Central Asia region, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. These funds are being allocated through the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. The assistance provided will focus on strengthening the capacity of local communities to predict, provide early warning, respond to and cope with disasters and to protect vulnerable groups from likely natural disasters through small scale infrastructural works.
The Central Asian region is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, the main hazards being floods, earthquakes, landslides, mudslides and avalanches. The Commission has been contributing to disaster prevention and preparedness activities in the region since 1995 through the mainstreaming of disaster preparedness into relief operations.
This third DIPECHO (Disaster Preparedness ECHO) Action Plan for Central Asia will focus on disaster prevention and preparedness through a range of local community capacity building and awareness raising activities. Interventions include empowering communities to identify hazards and develop local disaster management plans accordingly; establishing early warning systems; training and equipping rapid response, search and rescue and medical teams; developing curricula on safe construction practices; conducting simulation exercises; improving radio communication systems in remote areas; developing database tools and systems; and conducting public disaster-awareness campaigns.
The interventions will focus on areas that have been identified as the most vulnerable to natural disasters, both in terms of their exposure to hazards, and the local community ability to respond. This includes most of Tajikistan, parts of Uzbekistan and southern Kyrgyzstan, including the Ferghana Valley. Already in 2005, both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have experienced heavy snowfalls, avalanches and flooding that have effected local communities. Earthquakes and landslides are also a regular occurrence, posing a continual threat to human lives.
The DIPECHO programme has been operating since 1996 and has provided over €78 million for 319 projects worldwide. With this allocation of € 3.5 million, a total of €9 million has been allocated through DIPECHO for Central Asia since 2003.
More information on: http://europa.eu.int/comm/echo/field/dipecho/index_en.htm