UNDP, Ukrainian Government sign Memorandum of Understanding in support of disaster risk reduction and early recovery in Ukraine

30 Oct 2009

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The United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Ukraine have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in support of bilateral cooperation with the Ministry of Emergencies of Ukraine on natural disaster risk reduction and early recovery.

The agreement was signed by Olivier Adam, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine and Volodymyr Shandra, the Minister of Emergencies of Ukraine.

On the photo: Olivier Adam, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine exchanges the signed texts of Memorandum with the Deputy Emergencies Minister Valeriy Tretyakov(Photo by the Ministry's Press Service).

According to the agreement, the bilateral cooperation will be aimed at providing UN-led assistance to the Ukrainian Government, namely the Ministry of Emergencies and Population Protection from the Consequences of the Chornobyl Catastrophe, in the areas of sustainable development promotion, poverty reduction and disaster risk reduction.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Olivier Adam said the 21st century has been marked by escalating economic losses and human devastation caused by natural disasters. For instance, in 2008 alone, more than 300 disasters killed over 235,000 people, affected more than 200 million others and caused losses and damage worth USD 181 billion. While the destructive floods of 2008 in Ukraine, as well as the growing trend in flood-related disasters in Ukraine, show that Ukraine is not immune to global disaster trends.

“Over the past decade, Ukraine has joined a number of international conventions and treaties highlighting the importance of managing natural disaster risks. At the same time much remains to be done in improving national capacities to prevent and minimize disaster risks, that is, to minimize the impact of natural events such as heavy rains and floods on the lives, livelihoods, and socio-economic assets of communities across Ukraine. The Memorandum will help the Ministry achieve its key goals in addressing varied ecological problems and their related risks in Ukraine,” Adam said.

By signing the Memorandum, UNDP and Ukrainian Government have committed themselves to cooperating on the implementation of key priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action in Ukraine, as well as a number of joint technical assistance projects and other activities on the national and regional levels. Specifically, these projects would bring best international practice and mobilise most relevant expertise to meet Ukraine’s needs in strengthening national and community level capacities for mitigation, management, and coordinated response to natural hazards and related risks.

The parties agreed to implement joint activities in designing national strategy, policy, legislation and governance for disaster risk reduction, establishing and supporting early warning system and the National Crises Operations Centre.

Moreover, the parties will cooperate in conducting community-based national public awareness campaigns in flood-affected and high-risk communities on increasing understanding and awareness of possible disaster risks, addressing climate change and promoting the implementation of integrated bio-engineering methods and structural measures to reduce further damage and losses of material assets, caused by accelerated river bank erosion and landslides.

The parties acknowledged the importance of promotion of knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and risk awareness at both national and regional levels.

In addition, new joint projects will deal with decreasing the consequences of pollution and land degradation by strengthening pesticides management in flood-prone areas of Ukraine.

The Ministry of Emergencies and Population Protection from the Consequences of the Chornobyl Catastrophe and UNDP will jointly decide on the preparation and realization of the new projects in line with the currently signed Memorandum.

“Ukraine has decided to shift a focus within natural disaster reduction risk fieldtowards early recovery and prevention of natural disasters,”  the Minister Shandra said in a press statement distributed by the Ministry's Press-Service.

In his words, the expenses for recovery works in post-disaster period eventually depend on the investments which are made into the prevention of natural disasters. At the same time, the difference between investments into preventing disasters and actual recovery expenses in post-disaster period exceeds by several times. In this regard, Ukrainian Government authorized this shift by drafting an Interministerial blueprint to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action in Ukraine until 2015.

“By signing this Memorandum and by brining our efforts together with UNDP and other international institutions we would create a basis to implement the mentioned projects, allowing our country further adapt to climate change with a more adequate response through natural disaster risk reduction across Ukraine,”  the Minister Shandra added.

The parties agreed that sustainable environmental development had to be a top priority in Ukraine’s state policy, while disaster risk reduction and sound management provided an important component of working towards achieving Ukrainian Millennium Development Goals.

According to official sources, natural disasters in Ukraine in 1992-2008 affected over 2.7 million people, and caused damage and losses for a total of USD 1.6 billion.

People in high risk areas become risk averse and they start avoiding the investments needed to advance economically, because these investments are all too often lost in the next calamity.

For example, in Ukraine the Carpathian region is exposed to recurrent disasters, particularly connected with floods, landslides and mudflows. To reduce the risk of further damage and losses and the associate cost of recovery, it is critical to implement risk reduction long term interventions.

Community participatory approaches to risk reduction proved to be extremely successful in other disaster-prone areas elsewhere, creating a solid base for the national governments. It is important to act to ensure that these regions of the country, already characterized by uneven human development prospects, are not pushed into a vicious circle by their exposure to disaster risks.

UNDP stands on the grounds that good pre-disaster planning based on reliable risk assessments and a true understanding of risk reduction principles by national governments is one of the keys to guaranteeing sustainable post disaster interventions. The overwhelming majority of disasters in Ukraine are flood-related, and it is important to consider how climate change – globally – is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of natural hazards.

Therefore, UNDP and the Ministry of Emergencies will work together to raise awareness, share knowledge, and reach out to specialized agencies, and especially to mobilize financial support from donors, a necessary foundation for further implementation of joint priorities in disaster risk reduction, as detailed in today’s Memorandum.

UNDP's cooperation with the Ministry on Chornobyl recovery:

Parties acknowledged and appreciated their existing long-standing and successful partnership, particularly around issues of recovery and development in Chornobyl-affected territories of Ukraine.

According to the UN Action Plan on Chornobyl to 2016 one of the tasks is return to normal economic activities and infrastructure improvement at the Polissia areas that belong to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th zone of radiation contamination after Chornobyl accident.

In Ukraine, the transition from humanitarian aid to a development strategy defined the coordination role of UN Development Programme, putting UNDP at the heart of these UN-led efforts. The development of Chornobyl affected territories through community development initiatives has been successfully implemented since 2002 within the UNDP-led Chornobyl Recovery and Development Programme - a project operating in the country's four worst-hit regions - Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Chernigiv and Rivne Regions.  

The project has been funded by a number of international donors, including UN Trust Fund for Human Security (Government of Japan), CIDA, SDC, UNV, and UNDP. As a result, a total of over 300 organisations in 192 villages are covering over 20,000 people with the Project's activities. Uniting their own resources with those of local authorities and the private sector, they are implementing projects focused on making a real difference in their lives. Specifically, these community-based initiatives include reconstruction of water pipe-lines and gasification, reconstruction of schools, baths, village health centres and ambulatories, and establishment of youth, public and service centres, etc.

In addition, Chornobyl Recovery and Development Programme constantly supports the expansion of institutional opportunities, strengthening the potential of organisations and institutions that promote socio-economic development and ecological recovery of the Chornobyl-affected regions. This is being achieved via continuing support provided to the local communities, authorities and the Government of Ukraine in designing and implementing human development-oriented solutions for the affected regions.

NOTE TO THE EDITORS:

UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life.

UNDP takes the lead among UN Agencies in promoting and supporting the sustainable environment agenda in Ukraine, including natural disaster risk reduction and recovery. UNDP is mandated to work on disaster risk reduction issues by the UN General Assembly in 1998. The Bureau of Crises Prevention and Recovery is the UNDP emergency arm to implement its mandate.

We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range of partners. Over the past 20 years, UNDP has developed a large body of best practices and lessons learned on disaster risk reduction interlinked with development practices, working with governments, communities and civil society in high- and medium-risk countries.

Over the past decade, UNDP has worked with national governments and communities in over 60 high disaster-risk countries. There is now evidence that high-risk countries which have invested in disaster risk reduction have managed to dramatically cut their losses from natural disasters, in terms of human lives and economic assets.

Additionally, the effects of climate change globally, and in particular for Eastern Europe where most of the floods will occur every 5 to 20 years. The destructive 100 years probability of major floods events will raise between 19-40% and people affected will be between 6-11% increase. Countries with a complex risk profile like Ukraine will see raising of water table and poor absorption capacity of the soil in large areas of the country as contributing factors for the destructive effects of the floods water and mud flows eroding further rivers banks and destroying infrastructure.

The Memorandum will follow the Standard Basic Assistance Agreement signed between UNDP and the Government of Ukraine and will be in line with the UN Development Assistance Framework and the UNDP Country Programme Action Plan for 2006-10 and UNDP’s Strategic Plan for 2008-11, which makes specific commitments towards enhancing disaster risk management capabilities at the national and local levels.

Read more about UNDP in Ukraine: www.ua.undp.org.

About Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-15:

In January 2005, 168 Governments adopted a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards at the Word Conference on Disaster Reduction, held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is a global plan for disaster risk reduction efforts during the next decade. Its goal is to substantially reduce disaster losses by 2015 - in lives, and in the social, economic, and environmental assets of communities and countries.

The Framework offers guiding principles, priorities for action, and practical means for achieving disaster resilience for vulnerable communities. Priorities for action include:

  1. Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation.
  2. Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning.
  3. Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.
  4. Reduce the underlying risk factors.
  5. Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.

Read more: www.preventionweb.net/english/hyogo/framework/

About the Millennium Development Goals:

In September 2000 at the Millennium Summit in New York Ukraine signed the UN “Millennium Declaration”. By signing the Declaration Ukraine committed itself to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 in six areas: ensuring poverty reduction, quality life-long education, sustainable environmental development, improving maternal health and reducing child mortality, reducing and slowing down the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and promoting gender equality. More information about MDGs in Ukraine could be found here: www.ukraine2015.org.ua