Amount of Decision: EUR 6,050,000
Decision reference number: ECHO/DIP/BUD/2006/03000
1 - Rationale, needs and target population.
1.1. - Rationale :
According to Article 2(f) of Humanitarian Aid Regulation (EC) of 20 June 1996(2), DG ECHO's(3) activities in the field of Disaster Preparedness shall be "to ensure preparedness for risks of natural disasters or comparable circumstances and use a suitable rapid early-warning and intervention system".
DIPECHO (Disaster Preparedness ECHO) is a programme set up by DG ECHO to improve the capacities of communities at risk to better prepare for and protect themselves against natural disasters. Initially the DIPECHO programme focused on three regions: Central America, South East Asia and the Caribbean. In 1998, the DIPECHO programme was expanded to include two further regions that are highly exposed to natural disasters, namely South Asia and the Andean Community. In 2003, DG ECHO launched a global evaluation on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)(4), following which Central Asia became the sixth DIPECHO region targeted by the Programme.
Central Asia is particularly exposed to natural disasters such as landslides, avalanches, floods, earthquakes and drought. The losses and destruction that result from these disasters are considerable from a social and economic viewpoint, reducing the development potential of the poorer countries and specific provinces of the region, in particular where a large proportion of the population lives in remote areas. In all countries in the region, the occurrence of a major natural earthquake is a permanent threat, putting at risk a large share of the local economies(5). In Tajikistan, where poverty levels exceed 60% of the population, the effects and recurrence of a series of natural disasters aggravate the situation and prevent development. Tajikistan has also been rated as being amongst the countries most at risk in terms of potential disasters and economic losses(6). Certain provinces of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan face similar risks to those of Tajikistan. Following the World Disaster Reduction Conference in Kobe in January 2005, the Central Asian region has drafted a Disaster Reduction Strategic Framework based on the Hyogo Framework of Action. This has been done with the support of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), now present in the region. In parallel, each country intends to draft a National Disaster Reduction Plan - a long term process which will require support.
The DIPECHO Actions Plans for Central Asia, having channelled EUR 9,000,000 since 2003 for Disaster Preparedness activities, have helped encourage initiatives at all levels. While Tajikistan has benefited from some 80% of those funds, the most disaster prone provinces of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have shared most of the remaining 20%. Under the 2005-2006 Action Plan, some regional actions were also considered, including Almaty, Kazakhstan, and Ashqabad, Turkmenistan, through ISDR. The latter component aimed at enhancing university and science academy networking in DRR.
An evaluation of the three Action Plans took place in June-July 2006(7), concluding that the DIPECHO programmes have had an appropriate effect in reducing the impact of hazards, ensuring preparedness to respond, and establishing and continuing support of early warning/intervention systems. The evaluation notes that although there has always been an awareness of the hazards which affect communities in the more mountainous regions, DIPECHO has provided a much more systematic way of addressing the associated risks. It goes further to note that preparedness and response activities, such as first aid training and development of emergency rescue teams, have already saved lives, pulling people alive from avalanches and rescuing people from floods.
The evaluation also identifies key areas where DIPECHO can improve and where further activities can be undertaken to promote DRR in Central Asia more effectively, such as encouraging Governments through Ministries of Emergency Situations (MoES) to compile regional risk reduction plans; encouraging local authorities to publish district level preparedness plans which DIPECHO partners could feed into; and enhancing the Rapid Emergency Assessment Coordination Team (REACT) in Tajikistan with a view to exporting it to other countries in the region.
Key to the recommendations of the evaluation is that DG ECHO should continue its support for Disaster Preparedness in the region
It is now generally recognised that the integration of DRR in development and cooperation policies should become systematic, as risk and vulnerability are crucial elements in reducing the negative impacts of hazards, thus contributing to the achievement of sustainable development, poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals. The more a vulnerable population is exposed to natural disasters which exhaust its coping mechanisms, the more difficult it becomes for it to emerge from the spiral of increased vulnerability.
The Priorities for Action of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: "Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters" provide the strategic logic underpinning the Fourth DIPECHO Action Plan for Central Asia(8).
After the tsunami disaster in 2004, DRR, especially early warning systems, became the focus of international, regional and national efforts. In April 2005 the European Commission, in its Communication "Reinforcing EU Disaster and Crisis Response in third countries",(9)addressed the issue of enhancing preparedness and response to disasters. This document also considers the Hyogo Framework for Action as the starting point of its strategy.
(1) Northern Afghanistan in the framework of small pilot trans-border initiatives with Tajikistan.
(2) EC Regulation N°1257/96 of 20 June 1996, OL L163 of 02.07.1996.
(3) Directorate-General for humanitarian aid - DG ECHO.
(4) December 2003, Evaluation of DG ECHO's strategic orientation to disaster reduction available on DG ECHO's website of: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/pdf_files/evaluation/2003/disaster_report.pdf
(5) Preventable Losses: Saving Lives and Property through Hazard Risk Management; A Comprehensive Risk Management Framework for Europe and Central Asia, Christophe Pusch, The World Bank, 2004.
(8) See Guidelines for applicants on http://ec.europa.eu/echo/pdf_files/calls/dipecho_4_2006_centralasia/guidelines_en.pdf
(9) COM (2005) 153, 20 April 2005.