UCA and Aga Khan Agency for Habitat hold Second Summer University on Disaster Risk Management
Over 20 participants from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India and the United States came together for the second international Summer University on Disaster Risk Management in Khorog, Tajikistan. Held from June 16-28, the Summer University is organised by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the University of Central Asia’s (UCA) Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) and conducted in collaboration with the University of Bern of Switzerland and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna.
The Summer University 2019 is aimed at developing theoretical and practical framework for the integration amongst scientific, economic, social, and governance elements of Integrated Watershed Management and Implementation, as well as aspects of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) in practice.
“The Summer University is a unique opportunity to highlight issues related to natural hazards and disaster mitigation in this region that is vulnerable to natural hazards – and it is more than just about the hazards. We focus on linking scientific knowledge inherent in the understanding of hazards with livelihood issues to better ‘close the loop’ in Disaster Risk Management,” said Dr. Roy Sidle, Director of UCA’s MSRI.
The opening ceremony was attended by Mr. Yodgor Fayzov, Governor of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), representatives of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies, academic institutions including UCA and Khorog State University, as well as local government agencies.
The Governor highlighted the importance of the integration of disaster risk reduction into sustainable development planning and management, especially in the mountainous areas like the Pamirs. Sustainable development is only possible through enhancing the resiliency of vulnerable and exposed to disaster communities, adaptation to climate change, and provision of livelihood opportunities. He expressed deep gratitude to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for their long-lasting support, cooperation, efforts on DRR and the given opportunity of learning from Switzerland’s expertise on disaster risk management and prevention, made possible through this Summer University.
The event was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Tajikistan under its Creating Opportunities in a Safe Environment (Phase II; Fostering Self-Sustained and Resilient Communities) project, implemented by AKAH and Mountain Societies Development Support Programme of the Aga Khan Foundation.
Throughout the Summer University, participants from different academic and technical backgrounds will explore the importance of synergy between DRR and sustainable development planning through various themes, including assessing the effects of land management practices on various natural hazards, developing risk reduction concepts based on changing natural and socio-economic conditions, as well as considering people's perception of risks and their willingness to invest in increased resilience. The theoretical part of the course will ensure thorough and sound understanding of hazards, vulnerabilities, resilience, as well as interrelation between sustainable development and disaster risk reduction. A field trip to Muminabad region of Khatlon Oblast, which is one of the areas most exposed to various hazards, will shed light on soil and land degradation processes and demonstrate how unsustainable watersheds management practices can lead to environmental degradation as a whole.
The Summer University combines Switzerland’s internationally renowned expertise in disaster risk reduction, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s 15 years of experience working on hazard assessment and disaster preparedness in the mountainous communities in Tajikistan with the University of Bern’s academic expertise in disaster risk reduction, hazard mapping and prediction. The Mountain Societies Research Institute of the University of Central Asia is providing in-depth applied research and technical knowledge of Khorog and the surrounding areas.