From May 21st to 23rd the CapaCities project organized the second Peer Review on Disaster Risk Management in the city of Ararat, Armenia. The purpose of these local Peer Reviews on DRM is to support the “municipality under review” to improve its DRM policies by giving a fresh, external view on their current situation, signaling areas for improvement and providing recommendations as well as good practices from other countries and established EU standards. The peer reviews also help to sensitize and engage DRM stakeholders and commit them to a shared understanding of the situation and the way forwards.
In Ararat the peer team consisted of two members of the CapaCities Core Team, two peers from Ungheni (Moldova) and two peers from Kutaisi (Georgia). The first day started with a welcome by the mayor of Ararat, mr. Hayk Haykyan and a general introduction of the peer review (purpose, programme and the peer review framework) for the whole group of participating stakeholders. The first session covered the topic of risk governance, followed by sessions on citizens’ preparedness and risk education, disaster risk assessment and spatial planning. During the second day, the peer team visited national government in Yerevan. After a meeting with the deputy Minister of Emergency Situations, the 112 emergency room, psychological support unit and hydromet department were visited. The national geological institute of Armenia explained about hazard monitoring and warning for seismic activity. On the third day the regional department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations in Artashat was visited, followed by the fire brigade in Surenavan. At Ararat city hall the last sessions about recovery and disaster risk reduction were held.
After due consideration, the peer team presented its first conclusions and recommendations to the local stakeholders. The peers concluded that Ararat has very severe risks, but limited resources and possibilities. Ararat faces fundamental choices about safeguarding safety, as well as health and environmental protection. Small preventive steps can be taken, but in fact the risks require major prevention actions on national and regional attention. It will be difficult for Ararat to manage disaster risk on its own, so hand assistance is needed from local and regional stakeholders, as well as national government. In fact, there is a lot of national and regional expertise from which Ararat can benefit. If disaster strikes, it will most certainly transcend the capabilities of Ararat. So, it is important to prepare for crisis management in a regional/national context.
The mission has shown there is a will and ambition amongst the local stakeholders of Ararat to have concrete actions to improve the situation. The peers presented several concrete recommendations for such concrete actions to decrease the existing risk step-by-step and at the same time to use spatial planning (building code enforcement) to prevent the development of new vulnerabilities in this seismic active area. After discussion it was concluded that Ararat needs the DRM strategy to outline concrete actions and to find opportunities for their funding by the national government, EU, UNDP and other donors.