Moldova

Country profile

Moldova map Moldova is a landlocked country, located between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south, and with a surface area of 33,840 square kilometres. The largest part of the country lies between two rivers, the Dniester and the Prut. Moldova's rich soil and temperate continental climate (with warm summers and mild winters) have made the country one of the region's most productive agricultural areas, and a major supplier for its agricultural products.

The western border of Moldova is formed by the Prut River, which joins the Danube before flowing into the Black Sea. In the northeast, the Dniester is the main river, flowing through the country from north to south. The geographic location of Moldova determines the moderate continental climate, which transitions from an Atlantic Ocean climate to an East-European continental one. This transitional climatic character causes hydrometeorological hazards, such as flood, drought, frost and windstorm, which adversely affect the national economy. Moldova has a population of 4,205,747 (World Bank 2005) with a population density of 124 people per square kilometre.

The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which contributes 17 per cent of country's GDP.

Energy shortages contributed to sharp production declines after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The economy returned to positive growth of 2.1 per cent in 2000, and 6.1 per cent in 2001.

Growth remained strong in 2002, because of the reforms and because it started from a small base. The service sector contributes 59 per cent of the country's GDP.

Risk assessment

Moldova is highly vulnerable to floods. EM-DAT data for the country, available only from 1984 onwards, shows that, for the period 1984-2006, floods made up 50 per cent of the total hazards. It is very interesting to note that the country reported only hydrometeorological hazards during this period. The country is also prone to other natural hazards, such as windstorm, drought, epidemic, extreme temperature, landslide and frost. Historic records shows earthquake events have occurred in the country. The occurrence of natural hazards during this period (1984-2006) peaked during 1999-2003, with five events in five years; in the last three years (2004-2006), two events Occurred. There were no technological hazards recorded in EM-DAT for Moldova during this period. Hazard analysis shows that the number of events, deaths and economic losses are all high due to floods. There are relatively fewer deaths reported due to floods. Deaths due to earthquakes are the highest. As mentioned earlier, there was a steady increase in the number of events over the time between 1984 and 2003. The deaths recorded are highest during 1994-1998. The economic loss shows a decreasing trend during this period, though the number of victims increases, especially during the period 1999-2003. The rise in the number of victims in this period is due to the severe drought of 2000. As per country-level statistics, nine severe droughts occurred in the country during the period 1990-2007. The droughts of 1990, 1992 and 2003 each lasted for the whole vegetation period of four to nine months. The 2000 drought was severe and crippled Moldovan agriculture in the spring and summer of the year. This affected about 2.6 million people. The proportion of overall agricultural losses in affected areas was between 70 per cent and 90 per cent (UNDP). In contrast to these observations, the economic losses reported by EM-DAT during 1999-2003 are relatively low. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the windstorm and frost of November 2000 caused an estimated damage of USD 20.8 million. The economic loss due to all the various hazards comes to about 2.13 per cent of the country's GDP, which is equivalent to an annual average loss of USD 61 million. Economic losses reported are mostly due to hydrometeorological hazards.

Distribution of Hazards

Natural hazards Historic earthquake records report a severe earthquake of magnitude 7.3 in Chisinau in 1940. Moldova is in close proximity to the Vrancea seismic zone in Romania. The Unitei States Geological Survey has reported a recent earthquake of magnitude 2.9 in the Ukraine-Romania-Moldova border region on 15 February 2005. The earthquake on 17 August 1999 affected towns in both Moldova and Ukraine, including Kishinev, Simferopol and communities all around Black Sea coast of Crimea, with an intensity of 2-3 MSK, according to the Geophysical Survey, Russian Academy of Sciences.

Observations

Moldova is vulnerable to hydrometeorological hazards, particularly floods. Drought, frost and windstorms also affect the economy of the nation. Historic records of earthquake, and the country's location within the seismic zone of Vrancea zone, both indicate that the country is vulnerable to earthquake. There is a need to update and expand the seismic zone map of the country, as the existing map is more than twenty years old (Alkaz V. 2005). No detailed disaster risk assessment has been conducted for the country. There is a lack of a sound institutional framework and coordinated approaches between central and local governments for handling disaster preparedness and mitigation.

Considering the occurrence of hydrometeorological hazards in Moldova, the country requires establishment/consolidation of long-range forecasting for hydrometeorological information. A national hydrometeorological system with equipment; software; methodologies for data modeling, warning and prediction; and training; as well as facilitation of access to satellite information and information from the Euro-Asiatic meteorological infrastructure; is required. Financial constraints limit the country's implementation of systematic approaches to detailed risk assessment, mitigation measure preparation, and development of an early warning system. Consolidation of institutional and legal backgrounds, such as development of the national strategy for mitigation of hydrometeorological hazards risk, needs to be in place for the country as a proactive step towards disaster preparedness and mitigation. Considering the small size of the country, regional cooperation is very important for disaster preparedness and mitigation. The country has made an effort towards regional cooperation, associated with the activities of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative and NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) towards disaster mitigation in the region.