The inaugural Central Asia Earthquake Risk Reduction Forum will take place on October 27-28 in Almaty, organized by the World Bank Group. Over 70 policy makers, experts and practitioners from governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as regional research and academic institutions, universities and civil society groups, international experts, media, development partner representatives, and World Bank staff will attend the Forum.
Central Asia is a region vulnerable to many natural hazards, of which earthquakes are one of the most catastrophic ones. Historically, all the five countries have been devastated by a number of earthquakes that caused huge economic and human losses. In order to prevent such consequences in Central Asia, it is imperative that current earthquake preparedness of the countries be evaluated and gaps in risk management identified. This will allow for creation of a more systematic and effective investment framework for risk reduction.
“The World Bank in partnership with the Central Asian Governments and development partners, is organizing this forum to share experiences and address common challenges in a collaborative manner,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, the World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “We cannot stop natural disasters but we can arm ourselves with knowledge and take preventive measures to save lives and livelihoods. The World Bank is committed to expanding its effort in seismic risk reduction and management in Central Asia. We all, along with countries’ officials, want to build societies that are resilient to disasters to ensure the safety of the citizens and create a favorable investment climate. In this respect, the Forum provides a valuable opportunity for Central Asian countries to continue the dialogue on best practices in risk reduction activities.”
The basic objectives of the Forum are to understand the current state of earthquake risk reduction of the region and their potential fiscal impacts, and to advance the dialogue on risk reduction initiatives among policy makers and practitioners in Central Asia. The Forum will serve as a platform for cross-sectoral knowledge and experience sharing among stakeholders on investment solutions that create disaster resilience at a national and regional levels.
The Forum will span across two days with presentations and discussions on preparedness and response capacities of each country, international experience on risk identification and the state of risk assessment in Central Asia, as well as best practices in risk reduction investment activities in this region, urban resilience of cities, and risk financing. The topics of the sessions were chosen in line with the priorities outlined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
The Forum is made possible with the support of the “Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries” through the World Bank Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Hub in Tokyo.
Japan, as a country that has accumulated knowledge and technologies for disaster risk management through their experience with numerous natural disasters, has promoted cooperation globally to reduce the number of disaster victims. The World Bank and Government of Japan have been working closely to mainstream DRM in development learning from Japanese experiences and knowledge in this area.
Particularly, after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the World Bank and the Government of Japan strengthened the partnership and jointly released Sendai Report in 2012. Building on the Sendai Report’s recommendations, the World Bank and the Government of Japan launched “Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries” and set up DRM Hub in Tokyo, as its operational arm in 2014.
Disaster risk reduction is indeed an undertaking of mutual assistance. This Forum is seen as a collaborative effort to lay the groundwork for building an investment framework for risk reduction and management programs for the Central Asian countries. The expected outcomes of the two day discussions and the proceedings will serve as a basis for follow-up projects and initiatives.