(Dushanbe, 29 March 2013) – Representatives of the United Nations agencies, international and local NGOs, and the Red Cross / Red Crescent movement come together for a two-day simulation exercise to review and strengthen their coordinated approach in response to potential large-scale disasters. Tajikistan is highly susceptible to a wide range of natural disasters. In 2012, over 300 natural disasters varying in size and impact occurred in this small country. The disasters often affect the same vulnerable families living in high-risk areas. A powerful earthquake is feared to be the most devastating potential disaster.
The simulation exercise was aimed to test how well the key actors in Tajikistan, who are mandated to take action in emergencies, coordinate and understand their roles and responsibilities. Last year, humanitarian partners revised and updated the Tajikistan inter-agency contingency plan – a joint plan that outlines who does what in major emergencies, what primary hazards and likely disaster scenarios the country is facing. The simulation exercise provided an opportunity to practice the plan and identify gaps and inconsistencies.
During the two days, exercise participants gathered in one place and followed a realistic disaster scenario – a high-magnitude earthquake in a large city in Tajikistan. The participants were immersed in an environment of rapidly changing information, exponentially increasing tasks and priorities, and a huge demand for coherent messages and information flow to the media and the affected population. The simulation exercise was jointly organized by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the World Food Program (WFP). The organizers saw improved preparedness as the main outcome of the exercise.
“By testing the inter-agency contingency plan, the participants understood the importance of such joint endeavors and agreed on what we can all do now to be better prepared for such emergencies in the future,” said the Head of UNOCHA Regional Office for Caucasus and Central Asia, Mr. Marcel Vaessen.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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