Natural Hazard Risk
Armenia faces major natural hazard risk from earthquakes, floods, and landslides, with additional risk from hail and drought. More than 80% of Armenians are at risk of exposure to catastrophic events. Located on the high activity Alps-Himalaya seismic zone, the country has historically been prone to earthquakes, including the devastating 1988 Spitak earthquake that killed over 25,000 people. These events have the potential to cause cause significant damage, an every 250 year earthquake could affect 73% of the country's GDP.
Flooding also pose series danger, threatening half of the country’s territorymainly in medium-altitude mountainous areas. Flooding in 2010 caused an estimated $10 million in damage, and an every 25-year event could affect 6% or more of the country's GDP.
The Government of Armenia increasingly recognizes disaster risk management (DRM) as important for the country’s development. In the two decades since the Spitak earthquake, the government has passed significant legislation to improve risk reduction and emergency management systems, including the 2008 Law on Prevention of Emergency Situations. Additionally, in 2010, the government established a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which aims to coordinate and consolidate efforts in this area. It also developed a National Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2012 and a related action plan.
To advance its DRM agenda, government priorities include:
- Developing a comprehensive approach to DRM;
- Modernizing national weather and climate services;
- Strengthening seismic building code and building code implementation;
- Strengthening the seismic resilience of school infrastructure; and,
- Implementing risk financing mechanisms.
Since 2008, GFDRR-supported capacity building, knowledge sharing, and technical assistance have helped the Government of Armenia make strides in disaster risk management. Ongoing efforts are helping the government further advance disaster resilience. These include:
- Improving disaster risk information through conducting a national probabilistic seismic hazard assessment that will inform the update of the seismic building code;
- Enhancing disaster risk reduction through retrofitting critical infrastructure and implementing a safe schools program;
- World Bank technical assessment on school safety and development of guidelines for the retrofitting and design of new school buildings has informed US$110 in investments from the national government, US$88.5 million in financing from the Asian Development Bank, and a potential US$88.5 million in financing from the European Investment Bank.
- Informing the modernization of hydromet services through development of a roadmap for the modernization of weather, water, and climate services.
- Strengthening disaster preparedness, particularly at the local level through community risk assessments for risk-informed master planning; and
- Improving understanding of fiscal disaster risks and risk financing options.
Many of activities are in initial stages, and GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the Government of Armenia in these areas.
Early activities helped the Government of Armenia analyze natural hazard risk; assess the appropriateness of existing systems, mechanisms, and institutional capacities; and make recommendations for developing a comprehensive national disaster reduction and preparedness agenda. GFDRR-supported activities resulted in a comprehensive report on disaster risk reduction and emergency management in Armenia, among other outputs. These activities helped inform World Bank projects in Armenia, including the rehabilitation of rural roads.