Armenia lies in one of the most seismically active regions of the world and is affected by other types of hazards, too. In 1988, for example, the Spitak earthquake killed 25,000 people, injured 15,000, left 517,000 people homeless, and resulted in direct economic losses of $ 14.2 billion. As with many other countries with small economies, losses to disasters have directly affected Armenia’s capacity to develop. Currently, there is a huge scientific potential at national level and there are several institutions working in the field of Disaster Risk Management. However, disaster information is scattered among these various institutions which, in many cases, collect information without coherence and coordination.
This creates obvious impediments to performing a meaningful analysis to understand disaster trends, spatial and temporal impacts and potential risks and to integrating disaster risk information in development programming. With the support of the Global Risk Identification Programme (GRIP), UNDP-Armenia is assisting the Ministry of Emergency Situations (MoES) in the establishment of a National Disaster Observatory (NDO) as a sustainable institution for the systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of disaster data to support national DRR policies and strategies. In April this year, the Minister of Emergency Situations of Armenia has signed the decree on the establishment of the NDO as part of the Crisis Management Center of the MoES.
The NDO will be integrated into the National DRR Strategy (which is currently under development) to strengthen Disaster Data Management in the country. This creates the legal framework that will not only ensure sustainability of the NDO but also, and most importantly, create the conditions for the direct application of the data, analyses and knowledge generated by the NDO in planning and decision making.