Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the 5 republics that make up Central Asia, are particularly exposed to natural hazards such as landslides, avalanches, floods, earthquakes, droughts and melting glaciers.
These disasters cause considerable loss of life, destroy homes and livelihoods, and hinder long-term development. In addition, the ongoing conflict and insecurity in Afghanistan, and a severe spring drought of 2021, led to new refugee streams into Central Asia.
What are the needs?
The impact of climate change, coupled with the diverse geography of Central Asia, ranging from mountains, steppes and deserts to large river systems, make this region particularly vulnerable to natural hazards.
Even though some countries are better equipped than others, disaster risk reduction has become a priority for the entire region. While there has been significant progress in the last years, Central Asia still needs to strengthen its disaster management capacity.
Due to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and increased insecurity, there has been a rise in the number of arrivals and asylum applications from Afghanistan to the Central Asian countries.
Tajikistan is receiving the highest amount of Afghan refugees to date. Therefore, regional contingency plans, stockpiling and replenishment of essential assets are key to meeting needs for newly arrived Afghans to the region.
How are we helping?
The EU launched its humanitarian operations in Central Asia in 1994 in response to the civil war in Tajikistan. Since then, the EU has allocated more than €229.8 million in humanitarian assistance to Central Asia.
In 2021, the EU allocated €1 million in response to emergencies in Central Asia. This included responding to:
- sheltering needs for a refugee influx and basic needs for Afghan refugees who find themselves already in Tajikistan
- clashes over water distribution along the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
- floods in Tajikistan
- drought in Kazakhstan.
Moreover, in 2021, the EU channelled more than 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from Austria, Lithuania and Poland to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Between 2003 and 2018, the EU built up its support to disaster preparedness activities in the region, including its flagship programme, called DIPECHO. In total, the EU funded over 110 projects worth approximately €47 million, prioritising people living in areas that are highly vulnerable to natural hazards.
The EU also assisted in creating a regional disaster risk reduction centre in Almaty, Kazakhstan, including training components for its staff. The aim was to promote cooperation amongst the Central Asian countries and other institutions, including the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre in Brussels.
The DIPECHO programme also promoted the integration of disaster risk reduction measures into local and national development plans and budgets while encouraging development partners to adopt disaster risk reduction as one of their priorities.
Last updated: 22/03/2022
Picture: © European Union, 2020 (photographer: Peter Biro)