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Enhancing Community Resilience Against Water and Mining Dam Failures

YEREVAN, Armenia On December 10, 2019, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Center for Responsible Mining, held the final conference of the Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction (ALTER) project, titled “Enhancing Community Resilience through Strengthening the Preparedness and Response Capacity to Tailing and Water Dam Failures.” 

Over 100 local and international participants representing ministries, local governments, private companies, civil society, and academia attended the conference. In addition to highlighting the achievements of the ALTER project, the conference focused on bringing international experience to assess Armenia’s critical strengths and gaps in community disaster resilience, particularly related to hydro and mining dam failures. 

Within the framework of the project, the AUA Center for Responsible Mining conducted flooding risk analyses and modeling for tailing storage facility and reservoir dam failures in the pilot areas of Syunik and Lori regions. The results of these analyses are available on an open online platform

Based on the risk analyses for the Kapan, Sisian, and Akhtala communities, disaster risk management and response plans were developed, tested, and refined during tabletop exercises conducted in those communities. 

The project also installed a seismic monitoring and early warning system at the Geghi Reservoir dam of the Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine (ZCMC).

In October 2019, ALTER project partners in cooperation with the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Armenia (RA), the regional and local governments and private companies implemented disaster response field exercises of unprecedented scale in Sisian, Kapan, and Akhtala, involving more than 1,300 participants. 

Local and international speakers shared their knowledge and expertise on environmental risks and management of tailing storage facilities and the international disaster risk reduction framework. The speakers also presented the best practices in managing the risks of flash floods from dam failure, as well as challenges, perspectives and new technologies for flash flood early warning systems. 

One of the achievements of the project was establishing public-private partnerships for disaster risk management. During the conference, representatives of local governments, private companies, and the RA Ministry of Emergency Situations signed an MoU for disaster risk management at the local level. 

ALTER, which started in 2018, is an EU-funded project aimed at understanding and addressing flood risks that may stem from water and mining dam failures due to earthquakes. The project partners include AUA Center for Responsible Mining; Institute of Geodynamics, National Observatory of Athens (NOA) (lead partner); Centre of Excellence in Risk and Decision Science, European University of Cyprus; Center for National Security and Defense Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; and National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction of Armenia (ARNAP). For more information on ALTER visit crm.aua.am/alter and alter-project.eu/.

The American University of Armenia (AUA) Center for Responsible Mining promotes the creation as well as transfer and adoption in Armenia of best practices in socially, environmentally, and economically responsible mining. AUA Center for Responsible Mining works with companies, civil society, and the public sector to achieve this goal. More information can be found at http://crm.aua.am.

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