Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – the 5 republics of Central Asia – are particularly exposed to natural hazards such as landslides, avalanches, floods, earthquakes, droughts and melting glaciers. These disasters cause considerable loss of life, destroy homes and livelihoods, and hinder long-term development.
What are the needs?
The impact of climate change, coupled with the diverse geography of Central Asia ranging from mountains to steppes and from deserts to large river systems, make this region particularly vulnerable to natural hazards.
The region lies on numerous fault lines, making it one of the most seismically active areas in the world. While the largest cities in Central Asia are especially at risk, earthquakes can also trigger secondary events such as landslides and mudflows, which threaten almost two-thirds of the entire population of the region. Even if some countries are better equipped than others to cope with natural hazards, disaster risk reduction has become a priority for the entire Central Asia. While significant progress has been made in the last years, the region still a needs comprehensive disaster management capacity.
How are we helping?
In 1994, the European Union launched its humanitarian operations in the region in response to the civil war in Tajikistan. After that, EU humanitarian aid has supported victims of violence, such as the inter-ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan in 2010, and recurrent natural hazards like the food security crisis that hit southern Tajikistan in 2012 because of a particularly harsh winter.
Recently, the EU has continued with small-scale support in response to natural hazards across the region. Following the latest flooding that wreaked havoc across large parts of Tajikistan in May, the EU provided €80,000 to help affected families in some of the hardest-hit areas. The aid focused on distributing relief items, including pots, mattresses, blankets, bed linens, plastic buckets and plastic sheeting. Cash grants were also provided to families whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. In June 2019, the EU allocated €70,000 in response to a series of floods that wreaked havoc across Tajikistan’s Khatlon and Sughd provinces.
Since 2003, the European Union has built up its support to disaster preparedness activities in the region under its flagship disaster preparedness programme, known as DIPECHO. In total, over 110 projects have been funded, worth approximately €47 million. Priority has been given to people who live in areas that are highly vulnerable to natural hazards, such as the communities along the Tien Shan and Pamir mountain chains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The EU has also assisted in the establishment and capacity building of a regional disaster risk reduction centre in Almaty, Kazakhstan, tasked with promoting cooperation amongst the Central Asian countries and with other regions, including the European Union’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre in Brussels.
DIPECHO’s final action plan for Central Asia (2017-2018) encouraged partners to replicate previous successful community-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) models to consolidate the gains already made. The programme also promoted the integration of disaster risk reduction measures into local and national development plans and budgets, while encouraging development partners to adopt DRR as one of their priorities. Since 1994, the European Union has allocated more than €228.8 million in humanitarian assistance to Central Asia.