Protecting people from climate-driven disasters

The Green Climate Fund, Sweden and Switzerland join forces with UNDP to assist Georgia to establish a landslide monitoring and forecasting system

July 4, 2021

Photo: Vladimir Valishvili/UNDP

Georgians have first-hand knowledge of climate-driven disasters; almost 63 percent of the population lives in disaster-risk regions. As climate change impacts grow more intense, so does the frequency of disasters.  For example, the frequency of landslides has increased by 3.4 times since 2008.

Assisting Georgia in its quest for solutions, the Green Climate Fund, Sweden and Switzerland joined forces with UNDP to support the introduction of an effective system that monitors, forecasts and provides early warnings of natural disasters. This approach to disaster management, one fully grounded in prevention, will replace the traditional reactive approach in which the state pays for compensation and reconstruction after each successive event.

In May and June, UNDP invited Andrew Kos, a Swiss geohazard management professional, to join a team of experts from Georgia’s National Environment Agency (NEA). The team assessed eighteen landslide-risk areas across the country (encompassing the municipalities of Ambrolauri, Chkhorotsku, Dusheti, Khashuri, Kobuleti, Lanchkhuti, Mtskheta, Oni, Ozurgeti, Samtredia and Vani). Ten sites will be selected for piloting a landslide monitoring system.

Monitoring stations, to be installed in 2022, will monitor rainfall, track water movement in the upper few meters of hillsides and detect ground movement indicative of landslides. Because NEA will receive this information in real-time, it will be able to warn authorities and citizens about landslides before they happen.

UNDP and NEA also organized a series of workshops to discuss modern approaches to hazard mapping and modelling; 80 representatives from ministries, civil society, the private sector and research and academic institutions took part in the discussions.

“Meteorological events must not turn into devastating disasters,” said UNDP Acting Head Anna Chernyshova. “We can’t change the weather, but we can use science, knowledge and new technology to build a climate-agile society to make sure that people are informed and protected.”

“Establishing a modern system of early warning is a huge step forward to achieving climate resilience,” said NEA Head Andro Aslanishvili. “Climate-driven disasters threaten people in all regions of Georgia. New approaches to hazard management, such as modelling, mapping, monitoring and early warning can significantly reduce that risk.”

“Climate change is challenging our ability as a society to withstand the crisis, increase resilience and find effective solutions,” said Dr. Danielle Meuwly, Regional Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, Embassy of Switzerland in Georgia. “Switzerland offers Georgia the resources and expertise needed to more effectively protect people and livelihoods from climate-driven hazards, especially in the vulnerable rural regions.”

Cooperation with NEA is part of a US$74 million initiative implemented by UNDP with funding from the Green Climate Fund and the governments of Georgia, Sweden and Switzerland. The seven-year programme aims to reduce the risk of floods, landslides and other climate-induced disasters, provide direct protection to more than 1.7 million people and assist Georgia to build a climate-proof future.

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