Stefan Priesner: Speech at the opening of the Earthquake Simulation Complex

Jan 16, 2015

Mr. Zakirov, Deputy Prime Minister,

Mr. Khudaybergenov, Minister of Emergency Situations,

Dear partners and guests,

It is good to start a New Year of partnership with the celebration of a joint achievement. Hence I am especially pleased to be you here to mark an important milestone – the inauguration of the Earthquake Simulation Complex. 

Earthquakes cannot be prevented but they can be prepared for. This requires many measures, such as making buildings earthquake safe, such as a good response capacity of the Government and very importantly: public awareness.

Tashkent’s Earthquake Simulation Complex was constructed with this in mind. While earthquakes are frequent in Uzbekistan, over time, the devastating nature of 1966 Tashkent earthquake have somewhat faded away, especially among youth.  

People should be aware of safety measures and know how to behave in an emergency, such as an earthquake. It might save our own life and the lives of others. This is the purpose of the complex.

The Earthquake Simulation Complex is the only such facility in Central Asia, which is considered an area of high seismic activity.

Regarding the construction it is important to highlight the partnership between UNDP and the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Culture and Sports, with support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) within its Disaster Preparedness Programme for Central Asia. I welcome our partners today to the inauguration of the earthquake simulation complex – without your support and commitment this work would not be possible. 

The Complex was established as part of a broader cooperation between UNDP and Government on disaster risk reduction, a project of USD 2.3 million (UNDP 1.79 mill. – ECHO 0.51 mill.), which includes a number of results – various awareness raising measures for mass media and schools, specialized training, and state of the art equipment. Again the purpose was to strengthen preparedness - the key to helping save lives and enabling faster recovery.

The Earthquake Simulation Complex was built in accordance with international standards, and will be used as a facility for educating the public about earthquake preparedness and will be a valuable resource to national stakeholders. The earthquake simulation complex also includes an Earthquake Museum, to enhance understanding of visitors about the nature and causes of earthquakes.

I had the pleasure to visit the center a few months ago with UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark. During her visit to Uzbekistan Ms. Clark took part in a simulated earthquake and learned about the simple means through which one can prepare for and appropriate measures to take should an earthquake strike.

The facility is based at the Institute of Civil Protection of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and their support and ownership of the process has been pivotal.

Building resilience to disasters is a collective responsibility - we look forward to working together with key international development partners, some present today, in further strengthening disaster risk management capacities of our Government partners in Uzbekistan. 

Lastly, let me wish that the Earthquake Simulation Complex further develops and turns into a landmark facility for earthquake research and practice, not just in Uzbekistan, but beyond.

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