Central Asia is a region vulnerable to many natural hazards, of which earthquakes are one of the most catastrophic ones. Historically, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have been devastated by a number of earthquakes that caused huge economic and human losses.
Earlier this year, the earthquakes in Nepal reminded us of the devastating consequences earthquakes can have on countries that are unprepared for such catastrophic events. To prevent such consequences in Central Asia, it is imperative that current seismic 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 seismic risk reduction.
In order to share regional and international experiences on seismic risk management and improve knowledge and understanding of seismic risks on both national and regional scales, the World Bank held a Central Asia: Seismic Risk Session on May 12, 2014 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. During this session, representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan presented on each of the country's statuses on seismic risk and ongoing reduction and mitigation initiatives, and discussed the needs and challenges that they face. A discussion on international experience in seismic risk mitigation was also hosted.
The World Bank is committed to expanding its effort on seismic risk reduction and management in Central Asia. To continue the dialogue among countries' officials and international partners on investment strategies and risk financing, the World Bank is organizing a two day Central Asia Earthquake Risk Reduction Forum. The Forum will be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan on October 27-28, 2015.
The Forum is made possible with the financial support of the "Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries" and other partners.
The objectives of the Central Asia Earthquake Risk Reduction Forum are to understand the current state of seismic risks of the region and their potential fiscal impacts, and to advance the dialogue on seismic risk reduction initiatives among policy makers and practitioners in the Central Asia region. The Forum will serve as a platform for cross-sectoral knowledge and experience sharing among stakeholders on investment solutions that create seismic resilience at a national and regional levels.
The two day event will be comprised of presentations and discussions on preparedness and response capacities of each country, international experience on risk assessment and the state of risk assessment in Central Asia, best practices in risk reduction investment and seismic risk reduction activities in Central Asia, 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 expected participants of the Forum will include decision makers from key line ministries of the Central Asian countries involved in seismic risk reduction, officials of departments managing fiscal risks in the Ministry of Finance, representatives from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, practitioners from the scientific community in the Central Asian countries, key actors from outside the region, such as Japan, who can showcase international experience and good practices on seismic risk reduction and financial protection, and the donor community involved in disaster risk management in the region.
In preparation for the Central Asia Earthquake Risk Forum, the World Bank Disaster Risk Management Team for Europe and Central Asia is putting together a technical background publication, which provides a current understanding of the seismic hazard and risk at both regional and country levels. The publication serves as an overview of existing seismic risk monitoring and assessment programs and summarizes institutional arrangements for disaster risk management in Central Asia, focusing on seismic risk reduction. Current regional and country specific initiatives on seismic risk reduction and their progress are also outlined. Presentations, discussions and round tables held during the Forum will further inform the publication, which will be distributed to participants of the Forum following the event.
The Forum will also lay the groundwork for building an investment framework for seismic risk reduction and management programs for the Central Asian countries. The outcomes of the Forum and the investment framework will serve as a basis for follow-up projects and initiatives.