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| Press release

IFRC, UNICEF and USAID unite efforts to strengthen capacity for emergency preparedness and response in Central Asia

Almaty/Geneva, 4 October 2019– UNICEF’s Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) today announced the start of a joint programme, “Strengthening Local and National Capacities for Emergency Preparedness and Response in High Earthquake Risk Countries of Central Asia.” Supported by USAID and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the programme will assist populations at risk of a major earthquake and other disasters in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The results of the joint programme will contribute to the broader UNICEF-IFRC Initiative for Emergency Early Action and Resilience Building in Central Asia. UNICEF said that strengthening the capacities of frontline responders was a critical factor in delivering early action for children and communities during an emergency, including a major earthquake. “This partnership is particularly important when considering that earthquakes become disasters when we are not prepared,” said Philippe Cori, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. The collaboration with IFRC/Red Crescent Societies would contribute to building the resilience of children and their families in Central Asia, the agency added. Central Asia is prone to earthquakes, floods, mudslides, avalanches, droughts and extreme temperatures, all of which can cause loss of life, displacement, family separation, trauma, disruption of education, healthcare, food insecurity, and poverty. An estimated 99.9% of children in Kyrgyzstan and 88.3% in Tajikistan live in areas of high to very high seismic risk. Major urban areas in the region are particularly vulnerable due to high population density and continuing concerns over the seismic safety of buildings and infrastructure. Having national disaster management systems not fully adapted to address children’s vulnerabilities and needs, low capacity of national systems to withstand the disasters, limited nature of cross-sectoral implementation of the disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures, limited DRR knowledge and systematic training, make children more vulnerable to shocks and stresses. Bayarmaa Luntan, Head of the IFRC office for Central Asia, said, “All communities in Central Asia are at risk from disasters that can strike at any time. Helping people to be ready and better able to tackle them is the best way to save lives and reduces losses. That is why this programme is so important.” As part of the activities planned in the project, a sub-regional training for emergency supply and logistics experts will take place in Almaty in November. Staff from National Red Crescent societies, UNICEF Country Offices, and national and local governments will be trained on clear actions, roles and accountabilities in responding to a major earthquake in Central Asia.

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