Disaster Risk Reduction
Azerbaijan belongs to the world’s water stress countries, with per capita water availability of 1000m3. The experts’ estimations show that with projected climate change, water resources will be reduced by 23% during 2021-2050. Climate change will not only put additional pressures on water resources and seriously affect the rural water supply. It will also exacerbate frequency and magnitude of local floods.
The formation of floods more intensely takes place in the Greater and Lesser Caucasus mountain systems, which occupy half of the country’s total land area. The frequency of mudflows in the region has already increased from an average of 2 – 4 per year during the period of 1960-90s, to an average of 15-18 per year in the new millennium. Annually the mudflows wash out over 1 million m3 of fertile soil impacting land productivity, agricultural systems and resulting in human casualties. A major flood occurred in Azerbaijan in 2010 causing enormous economic losses.
In 2012, UNDP jointly with the Ministry of Emergency Situations have launched a GEF-funded project that aims to integrate climate change risks into water and flood management and reduce vulnerability of the mountainous communities in the Greater Caucasus region in Azerbaijan. The project addresses the problem through three inter-related interventions:
- by modifying water and flood management framework to respond to climate adaptation needs;
- by equipping the key institutions with capacities, technical skills, tools and methods to apply advanced climate risk management practices for water stress and flood mitigation, and
- by improving community resilience to floods and water stress by introducing locally tailored climate risk management practices.
Responding to the consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is also an essential part of the Crisis Prevention and Recovery Programme. As a result of the armed conflict, Armenian forces have occupied about 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory that is massively contaminated with landmines. In 1998, the Government of Azerbaijan decreed the formation of Azerbaijan’s National Agency for Mine Action (known as ANAMA) mandated to conduct humanitarian demining, giving priority to areas posing the greatest threats to human safety and livelihoods. The Government called on UNDP for assistance in establishing it.
While one model for mine action is to have the international community manage it, UNDP has stood by Azerbaijan’s efforts to build its own national institution, recognizing that mine action may continue for decades. As a result, ANAMA, has grown from a fledgling organization to one fully equipped to clear mines, provide risk education and assist survivors of accidents. Since 1999, ANAMA has cleared and certified as safe nearly 186 square kilometres of land—about the size of 27,000 football pitches—in the process destroying over 665,000 mines and other explosive weapons. More than 160,000 people displaced by conflict have been resettled as a result.
Still, the process is painstaking and slow. While ANAMA aims for a mine-free Azerbaijan by 2013, this does not include disputed territories still under Armenian control. By ANAMA estimates, clearance there may take up to another 40 years.
Today, Azerbaijan interacts with a variety of international institutions involved in mine action, facilitating a two-way exchange of knowledge on successful practices. In the spirit of South-South cooperation ANAMA has also begun supporting other countries in their efforts to rid themselves of mines.