A year after the catastrophic flood of June 13th 2015, Tbilisi is still developing its disaster mitigation and response mechanisms. Currently efforts are underway to review existing legislation and its ability to properly codify prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery actions, as well as to improve coordination among various agencies and develop early-warning system.
On June 15, EWMI ACCESS organized a policy forum to discuss the issues mentioned above. Public officials from the Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources, Education and Science, Internal Affairs, as well as State Council on Crisis Management, and Emergency Management Agency, local CSOs and international organizations took part in the discussion.
The participants discussed details of the 13-14 June disaster and the responsive actions. As public officials claimed – considering the scarce resources and the magnitude of the disaster, the government did its best to respond and recover from the disaster. However, significant shortcomings hindered effective response (e.g. lack of rapid response coordination system, and other issues).
The Crisis Management Center was established in February 2016 for effective coordination of various agencies during emergencies. The Center runs the fully equipped situation room and mobile center. The weather forecast agency is now equipped with the delta radar usage license and some additional weather measurement devices enabling accurate weather forecast a couple of hours in advance.
New policy documents and legislative amendments are also being developed: the National Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction is currently under preparation and will be finalized by the end of the year. Purpose of the document is to prevent natural disasters and reduce the damage. Furthermore the National Plan for Civil Defense was approved.
UNDP representative presented key findings of the assessment on performance of DRR during the disaster and spoke about key shortcomings and challenges.
All participants spoke about importance of risk analysis and early warning system. Public education on disaster risks was also mentioned as a top priority. The Ministry of Education and Science is already working to develop relevant handbooks and teaching materials for school students – as they said, the Disaster Risk Reduction section will soon become part of the civic education curriculum.