Uzbekistan, due to its geographical characteristics, is very prone to natural hazards, particularly earthquakes and floods. The eastern portion of the country, where lie the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara, as well as the Fergana Valley, is at risk of earthquakes of very high intensity. The most devastating earthquake struck the capital city Tashkent in 1966, killing hundreds, causing massive destruction and leaving 300 000 people homeless.
Floods are very frequent, commonly caused by snowmelt, severe storms, or by mountain lakes breaking their banks. According to official sources, in 1998, flooding from the Shakhimardan River killed 100 people. Large flooding with casualties also occurred in 2005 in Boymurod. Additionally, extreme weather conditions and temperatures, both in the summer and winter, can be a major hazard in the country. In recent years, the raising temperatures due to climate change are exacerbating the impact of climate-related disasters, for example the prolonged drought conditions in the once very fertile lands of the Fergana Valley.
Since 2003, ECHO has been supporting Uzbekistan while focusing on disaster risk reduction (DRR) under its international disaster preparedness programme, popularly known as DIPECHO, working with the government’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, as well as partners from the United Nations family and the Red Cross and Crescent Societies.
DIPECHO-funded projects increase the resilience and reduce the vulnerability of local communities and institutions by supporting strategies which enable them to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to natural disasters. Some examples are the support to the construction of the Earthquake simulator in Tashkent (funded in 2012-2013) or the Emergency Coordination Center in Kamchik pass, which includes an early warning system, the permanent monitoring of severe weather and a mobile application to quickly identify the location of an incident or emergency (2013-2015).
Through the latest DIPECHO cycle (2016 - 2017), ECHO is funding two projects in Uzbekistan, implemented by UNDP and German Red Cross. The projects follow an integrated DRR Resilience approach to strengthen DRR capacities of local and national authorities so the government can eventually take over such programmes, and mainstream DRR into local development planning.