International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction event, celebrated at the Kabul University
Prone to frequent floods, droughts, landslides, earthquakes, and avalanches, Afghanistan is one of the most exposed countries to natural hazards in the world. Every year, the number of people affected by these events is counted in the millions, and the capacity of the country to respond and recover is limited. As such, there is a real urgency to strengthen and support disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities as much and as quickly as possible. Furthermore, as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of natural hazards, Afghanistan is developing sustainable DRR measures, including Eco-DRR activities, to mitigate the impacts of natural hazards. Key national entities leading this are The Afghan State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs (SMDM) and The Afghan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA).
In this context, SMDM, in cooperation with Kabul University, officially recognized and celebrated the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR) in Afghanistan during an event hosted by Kabul University on October 13. The 2019 edition continues as part of the "Sendai Seven" campaign, centered on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework. This year will focus on Target (d) of the Sendai Framework: reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services.
IDDRR began in 1989 following a call by the United Nations General Assembly to designate a day for promoting a global culture of risk awareness and risk reduction. Held every 13 October, the day recognizes and celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reducing the risks they face. In attendance were representatives of government agencies, UN, local and international NGOs, stakeholders from civil society, and academic institutions. All shared their experiences and concerns about the risks posed by natural hazards in Afghanistan.
Mr. Najib Agha Fahim, Minister of State for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs
As an International Information Management NGO, operating and actively supporting DRR efforts in Afghanistan since 2010, and as a longstanding partner of ANDMA and member of Working Groups such as the Early Warning Information Working Group (EWIWG), iMMAP was delighted to be invited to attend and contribute to the event. The event followed iMMAP’s participation in an IDDRR workshop in Kabul in January, which was organized by ANDMA and gathered major DRR and DRM Partners in Afghanistan to share and discuss the topic: Awareness and Reducing Vulnerability to Natural Disaster.
His Excellency Mr. Najib Agha Fahim, Minister of State for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, opened the event by explaining why it is necessary to recognize IDDRR in Afghanistan given the country’s exposure to natural hazards. He then commended iMMAP’s Natural Hazard Atlas as a valuable tool for understanding the risks posed by natural hazards across the country. The Natural Hazard Atlas, developed in close collaboration with the ANDMA, contains information on floods, landslides, earthquakes, drought, and avalanche risks. It enables the SMDM to assess risks at the provincial level and then prepare and plan accordingly for improved disaster management at the national level. Enhancing the awareness and understanding of disaster risk in this manner is a key step towards DRR.
Group photo of some of the participants to the IDRR event
Dr. Andrea Porro, iMMAP Country Representative for Afghanistan, had the opportunity to present iMMAP’s work in Afghanistan and the support provided to ANDMA and DRR actors In Afghanistan
. He highlighted how disasters do not occur in a vacuum and are rooted in complex and dynamic climatic/biophysical processes, human actions, and social, economic, and political structures. Climate change, (in)security and limited public resources, land degradation, population growth, and lack of economic/human capital (e.g., illiteracy, material poverty, limited job opportunities) are a few specific examples of the many disaster drivers in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is necessary to mitigate their impact by implementing DRR measures and incorporating adaptation and resilience concepts into project development. He also drew attention to the important role of iMMAP's Afghanistan Spatial Data Center (ASDC)
in raising awareness. Dr. Andrea Porro added that iMMAP’s mission in Afghanistan is to improve access of the ANDMA to better information products related to hydrometeorological and geological hazards and their possible impact on lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure.
Dr. Andrea Porro, iMMAP Afghanistan Country Representative, during his intervention
iMMAP is grateful for its selection and invitation to contribute to the event and is already looking forward to the next steps of the joint efforts in DRR and Eco-DRR activities in Afghanistan. Among them, iMMAP will continue and enhance its collaboration with ANDMA and all DRR partners through capacity strengthening activities at the national and provincial levels, all whilst working towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Supported by USAID OFDA, iMMAP has been actively supporting DRR and CCA efforts in Afghanistan since 2010. As a result of the information management services provided to the Afghan Government and the international community, organizations receive accurate and comprehensive data to rollout more cost-effective operations as part of their natural disaster preparedness and response strategy.