Moldova is exposed to an array of natural hazards, and their impact disproportionately affects the poor. Floods, droughts, and severe weather events are the most recurring threats—but earthquakes, though rarer, could also have a devastating effect.
Projected rises in temperatures, rainfall volatility, and incidence and severity of drought due to climate change are likely to render the impacts of disasters worse over the medium term. Moldova has some of the core institutional and legislative structures for disaster risk management (DRM) in place, but—as is common in many countries—the main emphasis is on “reactive” disaster response, not necessarily on “proactive” disaster risk reduction or disaster risk mitigation.
The Government of Moldova has been strengthening institutions to better prepare for and respond to disasters. It has improved the ability to forecast severe weather, including at the local level, through improved hydrometeorological services; it has reduced the agricultural sector’s vulnerability to climate change by improving irrigation services, strengthening the existing agriculture insurance scheme, and promoting climate-smart agriculture practices; and— importantly in light of the small size of the country—it has strengthened regional collaboration and knowledge sharing on DRM. However, much remains to be done, and the social and economic costs of disasters cannot be underestimated: over the past decade alone, floods and droughts caused US$1.2 billion in damage; a major earthquake today could affect 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Strengthening Moldova’s DRM institutional architecture is not only essential to enable the country to better respond to natural hazards but also other shocks and stresses, such as the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. Just like in the case of a disaster, emergency responses’ effectiveness hinges on the overall institutional governance arrangements not only at the national level but also at the local level – with local authorities being at the frontline of combating the COVID-19 epidemic jointly with the DRM agency and different sectoral actors. Local capacity is essential because Moldova’s ability to respond to COVID-19, or any other shock or stress, is not just determined by its level of preparedness and readiness to cope with such complex crises, but also by the level of effectiveness of its governance systems (particularly in urban areas), as well as its existing service delivery and infrastructure systems.
In this DRM country policy note, chapter one provides an overview of Moldova’s disaster and climate risk profile. Chapter two reviews the current institutional and legal framework for disaster risk management and financing, including measures and policies recently adopted. Chapter three is an assessment of the current disaster risk management situation in Moldova, including ex ante and ex post disaster risk financing and insurance (DRFI) instruments currently in use for budget mobilization, and explores a potential earthquake scenario for Chisinau in more detail.
The fourth chapter concludes with a look at potential institutional and financial gaps, including a summary of recommendations and different sets of corrective measures that could be envisaged.
Moldova needs to clarify roles and responsibilities for strategic oversight, planning, coordination, and implementation of risk identification, reduction, and response measures. A comprehensive DRM and climate resilience reform agenda would need to comprise multiple elements to improve all aspects of an operational DRM framework, ranging from improved risk identification, better risk reduction, and enhanced preparedness, to stronger financial protection mechanisms and resilient recovery and reconstruction policies. Moldova developed a draft National Strategy for Natural Hazard Mitigation in 2015, but it was never finalized.
The government should now consider finalizing the Strategy to ensure an overarching and comprehensive DRM framework is in place. Such a framework would need to gradually move the focus of DRM from reactive, ex post responses to proactive, ex ante risk management. Given limited resources, it would also need to ensure that risk mitigation priorities are adequately mainstreamed within existing national programs (agriculture, urban planning, flood risk management, among others). High-priority actions for such a framework would need to include the following actions, specified for each phase of the DRM cycle