In order to address the important need identified by the Government of Tajikistan for Government agencies and partners to have access to clear and reliable information on the hazards and risks impacting the country, the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), the Committee for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense (CoESCD) and the Main Department of Geology have come together to support the implementation of a knowledge sharing platform known as the “Open Center”.

The Open Center, which now connects the two Government departments, will be extended to other departments in the near future.  The platform is composed of two physical facilities, one in each department with dedicated trained staff using an integrated data analysis and mapping tool, which is able to support emergency response planning, risk prediction and risk mapping and which will act as the institutional memory for knowledge around risk management developed by government partners across the country.

The Open Center will act as a collaborative working tool, which will allow stakeholders to share hazard risk catalogues, and hazard assessments, which have been conducted by organizations working on hazard mapping across Tajikistan, as well as an information repository, storing this data for future generations. The center will be accessible to the Government, international organizations, donor agencies, NGOs and other researchers or practitioners in this field.

Funding for this innovative initiative was generously provided by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Aga Khan Foundation.

In his remarks at the opening ceremony of the Open Center, the Chairman of the CoESCD Rustam Nazarzoda quoted “This platform will enable to enhance the collaboration on information management and dissemination amongst both government agencies and international partners in the country that eventually contributes to effective emergency planning and management.  This initiative is well in line with the National Disaster Risk Management Strategy (NDRMS) of the Republic of Tajikistan and Sendai Framework 2015-2030 priorities for action, mainly addressing the need to develop, periodically update and disseminate disaster risk information, including risk maps to decision makers in an appropriate format by using geospatial information technology.  Aga Khan Agency for Habitat support in this regard is significantly remarkable over the years of a joint collaboration, especially on collection, analysis, management and use of relevant data and practical information and ensures its dissemination, taking into account the needs of different categories of users as appropriate”.

Mr. Stefano Ellero, the First Secretary Head of Cooperation for the EU Delegation to Tajikistan reflected that “This center is a remarkable achievement in view of the effective response of the country towards many challenges faced due to natural features that pose threat to safety of people and wellbeing of the country.  The European Union stood in long lasting partnership with the Government of Tajikistan and the AKDN agencies – our implementing partners and restless promoter of these initiatives, in order to achieve this result today.  It is important to stress that this is the final achievement of a long process of support and awareness raising towards Disaster Risk Reduction of many different communities throughout Tajikistan within 15 years of partnership under DIPECHO project. The significant amount of work conducted in close coordination with AKDN and with the effective support of the Government brings us here today to inauguration of this Open center, which will serve as a strong tool to further enhance and strengthen the existing capacity in emergency management and response in the country”.

In his closing remarks Hadi Husani the CEO of AKAH shared that “What brings us all together in this initiative is a sincere wish to help increase the resilience of the people of Tajikistan to the hazards that they face, and we do that today by taking further steps to make sure our collective actions to save lives are informed by the best information that they can be, and that is what the Open Center gives us.”

The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH), which merges the capabilities of Focus Humanitarian Assistance, the Aga Khan Planning and Building Services, and the Aga Khan Development Network’s Disaster Risk Management Initiative, focuses on preparing for both sudden and slow-onset disasters. AKAH works to ensure that poor people live in physical settings that are as safe as possible from the effects of natural disasters; that residents who do live in high-risk areas are able to cope with disasters in terms of preparedness and response; and that these settings provide access to social and financial services that lead to greater opportunity and a better quality of life. Initially, priority areas of AKAH will include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and India.