On 28 and 29 of March Ararat hosted the first coaching meeting. A central theme was the fulfilling of the role of “DRM focal point”. The focal points are not meant to be just a local DRM expert, but more “change managers” with a general knowledge of DRM, that connect people and stakeholders from different policy fields. The whole idea is to mainstream DRM in other sectors, by raising awareness for the importance of DRM and by providing knowledge and practical tools to local stakeholders. Important is the sustainability of this role and approach after the project, in order for the cities to continue building their DRM capacities in the years to come.
Ararat already has performed a first stakeholder assessment to identify which partnerships could be developed. Also, the project has been discussed with several departments on national level. The Chief Specialist for Civil Defence, responsible for Civil Protection, is enthusiastic about being involved in the project. The focal points will create a local working group for Ararat, with enthusiastic members that have enough time to actually help on the project. That working group will consist of representatives from several sectors, in order to assist the focal points to reach out to the different categories of stakeholders. Ararat will also strongly involve the existing “green club” (companies and industry), because of the potential ecological risks in and around the city.
As part of the homework assignments, the focal points of Ararat have read a lot about the current DRM related legislation in Armenia. Emergency and crisis management is organized on national level in a national agency with regional presence. The emergency department closest to Ararat is situated in Artashat (25 km).
Discussing the main risks for Ararat, it was concluded that climate change is a very serious issue. Extreme weather conditions and events cause severe problems. Agriculture is suffering because of the heat and dry weather conditions. Changing summer temperatures also lead to more forest fires and serious incidents with venomous animals. Draught in combination with other factors leads to increased air pollution. In winter, the extremely cold weather conditions lead to deforestation and as a result landslides. Furthermore, the extensive use of water for fish breeding, the different industries in Ararat and the use of asbestos in constructions lead to all kind of environmental and health risks. In addition, Armenia is also vulnerable to earthquakes, because of serious seismic hazard levels and high seismic vulnerability of buildings.