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Disaster Risk Assessment for Urban Environment (Case Study of Mingechevir city, Azerbaijan)

Urban environment concentrate disaster risks due to the aggregation of people, infrastructure and assets, urban expansion and inadequate management. Geographical location may additionally increase risk, if the city is located in a disaster prone zone. Mingechevir city is located in the central part of Azerbaijan, and occupies downstream part of the Mingechevir dam. The city is known with several types of hazards that have both natural and manmade origins. Floods, landslides, flash floods, strong winds, salinization and groundwater rising are the major hazards in the area. Due to proximity to Mingechevir reservoir and city’s geographical location, probability of earthquakes is rather high than any other region of Azerbaijan. Because the Azerbaijani State Power Plant located in Mingechevir, high probability of techno-genic hazards exists in the area.

The city has many industrial units, however, almost all of them were stopped their activity due to market concerns. Economic problems associated with the activity caused high unemployment rates in the city.  With a low number of high-income residents the city lives below the poverty line. Vulnerability of local communities and children goes together with the current natural situation. Absence of traditions for managing of hazards, poverty, low level of structural safety in school buildings, shortage of disaster risk management supplies makes local communities very vulnerable to hazards. Conditions in school buildings reduce capacity of local schools to face these natural hazards without human and material losses. The situation is also exacerbated by long-term living styles of the society, which are based only on daily maintenances and do not consider latent changes of the environment.

The Law on Civil Defense and the Law on Environmental Safety requires environmentally sustainable and safety conditions for all Azerbaijani citizens. Law on Civil Defense stipulates that preventive measures to prevent emergencies, minimizing the possible damage and losses due to emergencies and mitigation of emergencies and their consequences must be considered in every activity in Azerbaijan. Considering current legal situation, current natural and social conditions should be studied with respect to Disaster Risk Reduction.

The purpose of the present study is threefold: a) To identify and study local hazards observed in the Mingechevir; b) To assess current level of the preparedness to hazards; c) Assess disaster risks for local communities and children

The methodology that has been used to evaluate current disaster risks in the district includes five well-known steps. Hazard identification, hazards assessment, vulnerability assessment, risk estimation and evaluation.  The study is a first of the “Disaster Risk management in Mingechevir”.

Rovshan Abbasov,

DRR and Climate Change consutltant of UNİCEF Azerbaijan 

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