EU project launched public awareness campaign on natural and man-made disaster response (11/11/2013)
On the 5th November in the framework of launching PPRD East public awareness rising campaign journalists from national and regional media visited the town of Novoselytsia, Chernivtsi region. Residents of this town were affected by flooding in 2008 and 2010. The event was held by EU-funded Programme for the Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Man-made and Natural Disasters in the ENPI East Region (PPRD East). The organizers invited the mayor of Italian town Quiliano as an expert to share the experience of voluntary work on civil protection in local community.
After visiting the places located in the flooding risk areas, the participants discussed Ukrainian and Italian experience of natural disasters prevention and preparedness. Foreign experts met officials of Novoselytsya District Administration, staff of Direction of State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Chernivtsi region, mayor of Novoselytsya town and NGO representatives. PPRD East Programme was represented by the team of experts and Colonel Oleg Pinskyi, National Coordinator, Head of the Sector of bilateral cooperation, International Relations Department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
Announcing the launch of the campaign, Volodymyr Kuznietsov, Key Expert on Communications of PPRD Programme, emphasized: “It is not an accident that we are starting our campaign from Novoselytsya. People here are regularly faced with natural disasters. And their safety depends on how they behave during emergencies. PPRD East campaign will not replace the education system for proper behavior during disasters, but we want to show how seriously this issue is taken in by the European Union.”
Maria Nikorich, mayor of Novoselytsya, told that during the 2008 flood the district was covered with water. There were 2500 people in the flood zone and 19 houses had to be rebuilt from scratch. "In case of emergency signal council staff with rescuers goes from house to house and warn the locals, call them and send SMS. In the city council there is a list of people, mostly fishermen, who have boats and are always ready to join the rescue operation".
Experience of Novoselitsya has a lot in common with experience of the Italian town of Quiliano. "In 1992, there was a dramatic flood in our town – says Alberto Ferrando, the mayor of Quiliano. – Two people were killed, the city was in ruins. It taught us to respond and be ready as of today. The most important is not to improvise but act strictly according to the local response plan, which comes into effect with the alarm. Twice a year we have training that allows us not only to test the response system, but also to improve it, because it shows some weaknesses”.
The most important feature that distinguishes the system of civil protection in Italy from the one in Ukraine is developed volunteerism. For instance, in Quilianothe team of volunteers exists for 20 years. They monitor water level, clear riverbeds and streams daily. In case of disaster volunteers with carabineers carry the main function to save the native community. These people regularly attend special trainings and pass medical examination, they do their job efficiently and completely free of charge, so they are trusted and respected by town authorities and neighbours. Cosimo Versace, representative of CIMA Foundation, told more about the organization and the role of volunteers in Italy.
Volunteerism is a very important and prospective direction of cooperation between citizens and rescue services in Ukraine. Local rescuers have demonstrated the bridge in the village Marshyntsi, which creates an artificial dam if the level of water is rising. If it is not cleaned in time, Prut River spills in 2-3 kilometers, flooding 8 villages and 500 houses. There are many such critical points throughout the region, and there are only 800 rescuers. In case of emergency situation they work round the clock, but the human resources are not enough.
Alexander Tomko, Colonel of civil protection service, Deputy Head of State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Chernivtsi region, said: "Taking into account experience of floods in the past, rescuers and local authorities have developed a system for responding to emergencies related to floods and flowages. Every year we arrange the action of cleaning up the river banks, river beds and small streams. The involvement of the volunteer organizations will bring only positive results. However, we must be sure that volunteers have been trained and know exactly what to do and will not hurt themselves and others".
PPRD East Programme experts presented to the local community the Family Emergency Guide, which contains useful information about behaviour in emergency situations, and posters for schoolchildren describing what to do in the case of fire. These publications, as well as social commercials, are the elements of the national informational campaign, designed to raise awareness about the problems of Civil Protection and behaviour during disasters in Ukraine. The organizers also promised that they would facilitate the process of setting up volunteerism in civil protection sector and contribute to the dialogue between the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and the citizens.
The first phase of the EU-funded Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to natural and man-made disasters in the countries of the Eastern Partnership (PPRD East) (2010–2014) is designed in partnership with national rescue services to contribute to the development of the Partner Countries’ civil protection capacities for disaster prevention, preparedness and response and to bring the Partner Countries progressively closer to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
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