Eleven municipalities across Georgia will carry out emergency management drills to practice disaster response and identify weak spots in their emergency management plans.
The exercise includes a tabletop simulation of climate-induced disasters and practical demonstrations of the available disaster management tools. It assists municipalities to improve coordination during an emergency, ensuring that their responses serve to reduce, or avoid, losses from hazards, provide prompt assistance to victims, and lay the ground for rapid and effective recovery.
Emergency management drills are organised by local municipalities in partnership with the Emergency Management Service/EMS of Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. The exercise is supported by the United Nations Development Programme/UNDP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation/SDC.
Telavi Municipality hosted the first of such drills this week with representatives of the municipality testing their flood response together with EMS experts. A three-day exercise concluded on 13 October, the International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction.
Two simulation headquarters were established at Telavi City Hall and the Kakheti branch of the Emergency Management Service. The drill participants responded to an imaginary “flood incident” and discussed what improvements could be made to the municipal emergency management plan.
Emergency management drills will continue through 2023, covering municipalities of Abasha, Akhmeta, Gori, Khobi, Kobuleti, Lagodekhi, Samtredia, Senaki, Sighnaghi and Tbilisi.
“The Government of Georgia is taking decisive steps to establish a national multi-hazard early warning system and increase access to disaster risk information for people and institutions across the country. Municipal emergency management plans are essential to make this critical mechanism effective,” said Temur Melkadze, Civil Safety Department Head at EMS.
“Municipal authorities are the first to respond to climate-induced disasters. We have first-hand knowledge about the needs of local communities and the challenges they may face in the time of emergency. Emergency management plans are an important tool to help us prepare and train for potential hazards and minimise the damage and losses,” noted Telavi Mayor Levan Andriashvili.
“Disaster preparedness plays an important role in building community resilience to climate change. It minimises the adverse effects of hazards, including loss of life, disruption of livelihoods and damage to property. Preparedness and timely action at the local level are crucial to reduce existing risks and avoid creating new ones. UNDP will continue working with our national and local partners to help Georgian municipalities prepare, test and finetune their emergency management plans and build capacities for their effective implementation,” stressed Nino Antadze, UNDP Environment and Energy Team Leader in Georgia.
Georgia’s mountainous geography and over 20,060 rivers are a source of the rising risk of extreme hydrometeorological events and climate-induced hazards. Around 40 percent of the population lives in areas prone to avalanches, droughts, floods, hailstorms, landslides, mudflows and windstorms. Most of these emergencies can be well managed at the local level, provided that municipalities are prepared for disaster response and have enough capacities and resources to operate effectively.
Georgia is now rethinking its national vision of disaster risk reduction, striving to establish a functioning early warning system at both national and local levels. This huge Government-led effort is supported by UNDP, the Green Climate Fund/GCF and the governments of Switzerland and Sweden.