Uzbekistan Moves Towards Proactive Approach to Disaster Risk Management

December 14, 2016


General view from the Islam Khodja minaret, Khiva, Uzbekistan (Photo via Wikipedia Commons)

Story Highlights
  • In close collaboration with the Government of Japan and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the World Bank recently launched its first Disaster Risk Management engagement in Uzbekistan.
  • Earthquakes and other natural hazards pose a significant risk to Uzbekistan’s development gains. The launch of this program signals a commitment towards a proactive approach to disaster risk management and disaster-proofing Uzbekistan’s socio-economic development path.
  • The Program will gain from international best practices in disaster risk management to better assess, modernize and strengthen existing disaster risk management capacities and systems in Uzbekistan.

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, December 14, 2016 – 50 years ago, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake devastated Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital and currently the most populated city in Central Asia. Today, with more than half the population and half the economy located in areas of high seismic risk, earthquakes remain a considerable threat to development gains and community’s livelihoods in Uzbekistan. Similarly, a risk assessment developed by the World Bank and GFDRR’s Innovation Lab showed that, in Uzbekistan, the annual average population affected by earthquakes is about 1 million and annual average affected gross domestic product (GDP) is $2 billion. The rapid urbanization rate, aging infrastructure and demographic growth will accentuate this trend in the absence of risk mitigation.  

In recognition of its high exposure and vulnerability of its population and its economy, the Government of Uzbekistan has made significant steps by shifting from a reactive approach (focused on emergency responses) to a proactive approach that aims at reducing disaster risks. For instance, in 2006, the Government of Uzbekistan adopted the State Program on Earthquake Risk Reduction, which was aptly complemented by the 2011 Program on the Preparedness of the Population to Respond Emergency Situations Caused by Earthquakes


Uzbekistan Country Risk Profile – The World Bank and GFDRR, 2016
Source: Europe and Central Asia - Country risk profiles for floods and earthquakes (English)

Actionable data facilitates risk-informed investments

" Whether and when catastrophic events occur is in nobody’s control, but one has some influence over how bad the damage, how severe the injuries, how big the losses of lives would be. The Program is indicative of the Government of Uzbekistan’s commitment to minimizing the potential impact from disasters on residents and the economy. It will facilitate the development of measures and policies to mitigate existing risks, avoid the creation of new ones, and support local authorities to prepare for efficient responses to any such event.  "

Mr. Jan-Peter Olters

Acting Country Manager for Uzbekistan, World Bank

Building on this momentum, the World Bank in close collaboration with the GFDRR and the Government of Japan, recently launched its first disaster risk management (DRM) program in Uzbekistan. The program’s launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Tashkent earthquake, serving as a timely reminder of the devastating effects of natural disasters and the importance of investing in resilience.

The Ministry of Emergency Situations (MoES) of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be the World Bank’s main partner and coordinate the Strengthening Disaster Resilience Program implemented over the next 30 months. The Strengthening Disaster Resilience Program in Uzbekistan aims at enhancing the capacity of the Government of Uzbekistan by identifying, prioritizing, and planning for the implementation of disaster preparedness measures (including the crisis management system) and seismic risk reduction investments, policies and other related measures by:

  1. Building capacity for disaster risk management.
  2. Supporting risk identification to strengthen public facilities.
  3. Strengthening crisis management systems through disaster preparedness.
  4. Understanding fiscal impacts of disasters and promoting economic opportunities.

" The last years’ practice indicates that establishing international cooperation, widely using other countries’ and international organizations’ experience, are needed to effectively address existing challenges in the area of disasters prevention. Thus, the major goal pursued by the international cooperation is adoption of new technologies. The Project activities such as capacity assessment, improvement of early warning and information system meet the key requirements of Sendai Framework for DRR, and based on assessment of and modelling potential threats and risks, will allow to increase efficiency in managing available forces and resources and improve population preparedness for natural disasters. "

Mr. K. Aripov

1st Deputy Minister, Ministry of Emergency Situations (MoES)

Capturing Best Practices and Knowledge through Partnerships


His Excellency Mr. Nobuaki Ito, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Uzbekistan, Embassy of Japan at the Strengthening Disaster Resilience Program Launch, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Photo Credit: The World Bank

The Strengthening Resilience Program was made possible with the support of the "Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming DRM in Developing Countries" through the DRM Hub, Tokyo and other donors  that support technical assistance, pilot projects, thematic initiatives, knowledge mobilization, and capacity building along the four pillars of the DRM framework described in the Sendai Report: Risk Identification, Risk Reduction, Preparedness, and Financial Protection (with an emphasis on ex-ante measures).

The Uzbekistan technical assistance program builds on the Central Asia Earthquake Risk Reduction Forum supported by the World Bank, the Government of Japan and GFDRR in October 2015. This collaborative effort that reviewed across Central Asia ongoing earthquake risk reduction efforts, their potential fiscal impacts, and stimulated dialogue on risk reduction initiatives among policy makers and practitioners in the region. Over 70 policy-makers, experts, and practitioners from governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as development partner representatives, international experts, regional research and academic institutions, universities, civil society groups, media, and World Bank staff attended this Forum in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

" 50 years ago in 1966 Tashkent was hit by strong earthquake, and 5 years ago there was the strongest earthquake in the eastern part of Japan in 2011. In this context, the beginning of the program of cooperation for prevention of natural disasters between Japan and Uzbekistan, with the support of the World Bank has a deep meaning. To transfer its existing experience and knowledge in the field of disaster prevention Japan with the assistance of the World Bank has decided to start such 5 year program and allocated USD100 million in February 2014, with USD1.25M for this project. "

His Excellency Mr. Nobuaki Ito

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Uzbekistan, Embassy of Japan

Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries