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We Are Ready! ASB’s History and Role to Develop A Culture of Safety in Georgia

Improved preparedness of individuals, families and communities to better equip themselves to respond to natural disasters is one of ASBs key priorities in region.

Georgia is part of a highly hazard-prone region with earthquakes, frequent floods, landslides, avalanches and droughts affecting the lives and livelihoods of high-at-risk communities.

This is, in part, due to global climate change, which increases the regularity, scale and impact of hazards around the world. Nevertheless, hazards only become disasters when a society’s ability to cope within existing resources is overwhelmed. When this occurs, the poor and vulnerable – especially children, older persons, people living in poverty and persons with disabilities – are most at risk as they often lack the knowledge, life-skills and resources that would enable them to better prepare for disasters. According to reliable statistics the number and scale of natural disasters increased dramatically over the recent years. The damage caused to Georgia by natural disasters during the last 10 years exceeds the relevant indices of neighboring countries by three or more times.

Based on situation analyses, international practice and national guidelines and standards,    country preparedness to disasters was defined as one of the top of priorities in Georgia. In response to this policy priority, ASB in the framework of IV phase of DIPECHO program is currently implementing a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project with the slogan

“We are ready!”

DIPECHO stands for Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation, which is financing this project on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Education for the Culture of Safety”

Starting in 2010, ASB works in Georgia in partnership with government on a wide variety of DRR and resilience building activities. These include: policy and planning, community-based and pre-school based initiatives, endorsement of a Disability Inclusive DRR approach in the education sector, capacity building and media outreach projects.

At the core of ASB’s philosophy towards Disaster Risk Reduction is the creation of an enabling environment particularly for socially high-at-risk people, such as Internally Displaced Persons, children or persons with disabilities to protect themselves during natural disasters by teaching them how to react during and after disasters and how to be better prepared.

The first “Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction training for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in West Georgia” was financed by the German Federal Foreign Office. It focused on delivering DRR as well as first aid trainings to IDPs residing in newly rehabilitated IDP settlements. Particular attention was paid to involve host communities in these trainings. This approach served the purposes of not only spreading the knowledge about DRR and first aid in the immediate vicinity, but also to facilitate integration between IDPs and their local neighbors.

In 2015 ASB started to implement two projects under the Disabilty inclusive DRR programme (DiDRR) with the slogan “We Are Ready”, which promoted the DiDRR concept in Kindergartens. In Tbilisi and throughout Georgia, caregivers and children participated in trainings and received child-friendly educational materials developed by ASB, which aimed to equip children with knowledge and skills necessary before, during and after disasters.

To make all the previous work in DRR more sustainable, ASB continued its project

– We Are Ready! – in a new phase that started in 2016 and will end in 2018. The main goal of this project is to add practical relevance by institutionalizing the disaster risk reduction program in the education and other sectors. Besides working directly with schools, teachers training courses at selected  state universities were conducted and the capacity of active participation in disaster risk reduction issues of DPOs (Disabled People’s Organizations) and other NGOs working on the problems of persons with disabilities was increased. This modified and integrated new approach to better contribute towards building inclusive culture of safety and resilience is aligned to the new global framework for DRR (Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030).  In this endeavor ASB is working closely with the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES), the Emergency Management Service, the Georgian and Danish Red Cross Societies in Georgia and Bridge Innovation.

As one of the most recent new approaches with regards to DiDRR, ASB started in 2017 to cooperate with the private sector. Based on a memorandum between m² Real Estate and ASB, the first precedent of a DiDRR project was set within the housing development sector.  This cooperation between m² and ASB was oriented towards implementing a pilot project in a particular Tamarashvili complex of the company, which included a variety of activities defined by the Disaster Risk Management Program such as: Conducting trainings, dissemination of educational materials for residents, practical activities of disaster risk management in the form of simulation, retraining of m² personnel and establishing special security headquarters.

It is important to note that this Disaster Risk Management pilot program also provided an inclusive approach.  Such kind of training was conducted for the first time in the residential business sector in Georgia. It aimed at preventing risks of disaster and introducing the residents to the appropriate behavior during disasters.

No One Left Behind, is the motto of this pilot project in the framework of the DiDRR programme, that’s why it has an inclusive approach. This is just one more example that ASB is contributing to the country’s preparedness by reaching different target groups and cooperation partners.

For us, it’s equally as important to cooperate with the private sector. For example, we trained the m² Real Estate company staff and their residents in DRR

As an international experience, ASB together with the UNICEF office in Turkemistan, has replicated pre-school Disaster Risk Reduction program and delivered trainings for Day Care Center, and preschool education sector representatives in Turk­menistan as well as shared ASB’s developed DiDRR education material, to use in region and support­ them in implementing the program in country. 

To sum it all up, the – We Are Ready! – campaign slogan is a direct and simple message for everyone to think about, how important it is to know what to do and how to act during disaster, as disaster may happen anywhere and anytime” – says Karl Koester – Country Director of Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund – ASB.