Handling Climate Change and Natural Disaster Risks Through Proper Management
26 April, 2012
Handling Climate Change and Natural Disaster Risks Through Proper Management

To handle natural disasters-related economic and environmental losses, Caucasus Environmental NGO Network suggests to Georgian government to institute better management of natural resources and possible climate-change risks.

The frequency and magnitude of natural hazard events is growing worldwide, including Georgia, negatively effecting the population, the economy and the environment. According to two separate assessments of Georgia, both of which were carried out by the World Bank, taking into account the different recurrence probabilities of disasters in the country (0.5%, 5%,

20%), the possible cost of these annual risks of natural disasters is estimated to range between USD146 million to USD 3.3 billion.
Based on the information provided by the National Environmental Agency of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia, between 1995 and 2011 the total amount of damage occurred in consequence of geological and hydro–meteorological natural disasters amounted to GEL 2.338.5 million.
The underway climate change is believed to cause natural disasters. However, quite often it is not improper management of agriculture and natural resources that lays ground to natural disasters, Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), assures and offers to Georgian government proper management plans so as to train population in rural Georgia to handle with eminent risks.
CENN held a conference on April 11, 2012 to raise public awareness of climate change problems both in state structures and civil society.
According to Rezo Getiashvili, a project coordinator with CENN, during a year and a half CENN has been implementing researches to assess the underway climate changes and draw out possible scenarios and prognosis that may come true by 2020-2050.
To this end CENN has analyzed official information of several decades on climate changes and prepared so called adaptation plans to reduce losses.
“Temperature will increase approximately by 2 degrees, hot days will become more frequent and droughts get longer...We already face this process in fact and based on our researches we try to work out adaptation measures that will help to reduce possible economic losses… If we know how the climate will change and what impact and influence it may have on different economic fields like agriculture, or natural disasters so we can plan the relevant measurements that will help to meet the expected changes more prepared, escape losses and even derive profits,” Getiashvili said in the interview with Georgian Journal. 
Getiashvili believes climate change prognosis should be taken into account during decision-making process therefore CENN introduced its adaptation plans to governmental bodies including agriculture, energy, environment, regional development and infrastructure ministries as well as economy ministry to establish partnership with them.
Moreover, CENN finds essential to train rural population in skills of proper agriculture management to escape natural disasters and related losses and seeks for partnership with local self-government bodies to this end.  It works in six municipalities at the moment in Ajara, Kakheti and Samtkhe-Javakheti regions through pilot projects aimed on strengthening of villages so as they could manage their agriculture assets in line with sustainable development strategy. 
For example in Kakheti the state handed pastures of about 200-500 hectare (ha) space for common use to villages under lease agreements however legal ownership of these lands is questionable: usually lease agreements are concluded on one person picks as a trustee by a village, sometimes no such agreement exists and a trustee manages the pastures based on a trust-letter confirmed by signatures of villagers, or only verbal consent is given to trustee and in reality the trustee can misuse the land; sometime central governmental bodies use pastures under different purposes. Some villages even are not aware they have pastures at their disposal and they lay unused. Moreover, big plots of pastures [about 200 ha out of 500 ha] are already devastated due to improper management as well as climate change and are no longer available for actual use.
CENN pilot program suggests on the one hand restoration of the affected pastures where deserting process is gone far, and on the other hand to legalize pastures of common use on villages through creation of public law entities so as to rule out divesting risks: according to current law, these pastures can be handed out and alienated or used for any other purpose.
“These pastures are used by households who have just one cow or two or some other cattle and as a rule such families completely depend on incomes taken through this activity and if such pastures perish due to improper sustainable management, or if the village will be deprived of the pasture it will cause social problems as families can lose their sole source of income,” Getiashvili said.
According to him, setting of public law entities under local municipalities responsibility is the best way out at the moment for Georgian rural population is not ready for creation of more sophisticated forms of organization like cooperatives and associations. CENN suggests starting by public law entities and if it does work properly then go on better organization models. 
If central authority agrees on creation of public law entities in rural areas CENN undertakes responsibility of preparing business plans for such legal entities, provide with legal consultations and training as well as financing the entire process. Consultations with government are under vision at the moment.
“Ultimately these can become a management model to the economics ministry in other rural areas, this will be a chance of experiment that we will be financing,” Getiashvili said. 
All the pilot projects are tailored on regional needs. In Ajara for example that suffers of land-slips generally in Keda village CENN deploys planting of vineyards of Chkhaveri [one of Georgian varietals grown in west Georgia] that reduce water erosion problem and on the other hand can bring economic profits through sales of Chkhaveri wine that is in great demand lately. Moreover Ajara plans to develop wine tourism along with the sea and ecotourism and promotion of Chkhaveri [been one of the rarest varietals] falls in line with this projection.  
“Of course climate change is a provoking factor to natural disasters but the biggest provoking factor is bad management of natural resources and agriculture, and we should take it during decision-making process,” Getiashvili said.

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