Romania

Country profile

Romania map Romania borders Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and Moldova to the north-east, and Bulgaria to the south. Romania has a stretch of sea coast along the Black Sea, and the Carpathian Mountains run through its centre. Romania has a geographic area of 238,390 square kilometres; it is the second-largest country in SEE and the twelfth-largest in Europe.

The Danube River flows along its border with Serbia and Bulgaria, The Tiza River shares the national boundary of Romania with Hungary.

The Danube, joined by the Prut River, forms the border with the Republic of Moldova. The Danube flows into the Black Sea on Romanian territory, forming the Danube Delta, the largest delta in Europe. This delta is currently a biosphere reserve and World Heritage-listed site due to its rich biodiversity.

Romania has a population of 21,634,350 (World Bank 2005), with a population density of 91 people per square kilometre. Population density is high in the towns and in the plains. After late 1989, the country experienced a decade of economic instability and decline, led, in part, by an obsolete industrial base and a lack of structural reform. From 2000 onwards, however, the Romanian economy has transformed into one of relative macroeconomic stability, characterized by high growth, low unemployment and declining inflation. The economy is predominantly based on services, which account for 55 per cent of GDP! even though industry and agriculture make significant contributions, comprising 35 per cent and 10 per cent of country's GDP respectively. Additionally, 32 per cent of the Romanian population is employed in agriculture and primary production, one of the highest rates in Europe. With a higher GDP per capita in 2006,

Romania is considered an upper-middle income economy, and has been a part of the European Union since 1 January 2007.

Risk assessment

Romania is highly vulnerable to earthquake and flood. It is also one of the most seismically active countries in Europe. In terms of the number of events, flood contributes to the highest percentage (41 per cent) of disasters. Occurrence of other hazards, both natural and technological, is also high in this country. Figure 32 details the proportional distribution of different hazards in the nation during the period 1974-2006.

Distribution of Hazards

Natural hazards Romania has recorded some devastating earthquakes and floods in its history, causing deaths and economic losses. Even though, as per EM-DAT, earthquakes comprised just 5 per cent of all hazards recorded in the country during 1974-2006, there have been some damaging and catastrophic earthquakes in Romania in the past. Historic records show that the earthquake of 1940 had 980 fatalities, while the 1977 earthquake had 1,641 fatalities and led to economic damages of USD 2 billion. Landslides have often occurred as associated hazards of earthquakes and floods in the country. The EM-DAT data for the last 33 years (1974-2006) shows that natural hazards - particularly earthquake, flood and extreme temperature - have taken a toll of 1,940 lives. Analysing the time series data (figure 33), there is a steady increase in the incidence of disasters, due to both natural and technological hazards, after the 1980s in the country. In both natural and technological hazards, the last three year bin (2004-2006) shows a decline against the past trend. Flood is the hazard that occurs most frequently; while, in terms of severity, earthquake has killed highest number of people, with a substantial economic loss generated as well (USD 2,756 million, as per the National Geophysical Data Center). Flood has affected the largest population, with the highest economic loss (of USD 3,269.3 million). Hydrometeorological disasters have increased steadily, with mounting numbers of events and mounting numbers of victims (including killed and affected), particularly after 1993. The period 2004-2006 recorded 24 hydrometeorological hazards in the nation. As per EM-DAT, 1974-78 recorded the highest number of deaths, victims and economic losses during the last 33 years. This was due to a severe earthquake during 1977. There was substantial economic loss recorded during 2004-2006. There was a steady increase in number of events over the period. Deaths were recorded due to almost all hazards, except drought and epidemic. Eliminating the extreme event value of 1977, the economic losses reported for the rest of the period shows that losses have been increasing steadily over time, along with the number of events. This shows the increased vulnerability of the country, along with its economic growth. The south and south-west region of the nation is highly vulnerable to earthquakes due to its proximity to the Vrancea seismic zone. Even though Romania has not recorded any major earthquake in the last two decades, the vulnerability of the country to earthquake needs to be analysed, considering the longer return period probability. Even though the total affected population due to technological hazards is showing a dip in value, the number of technological events increased after the 1980s. Two major transport accidents happened in 1989 and 1995, affecting 190 and 114 people respectively. Occurrence of events and population affected by transport accidents are higher compared with industrial accidents. No fire events were recorded in EM-DAT, but Global Fire Monitoring Center data shows the country had 102 events between 1990 and!997, affecting 355 hectares of land.

Observations

Romania is highly vulnerable to various hazards, particularly to earthquake and flood. Romania is in the process of developing and strengthening legislative and organizational frameworks for disaster mitigation and preparedness. The country has enlarged international cooperation in the field of earthquake prevention, particularly assistance and technical support from the World Bank and Japan, and is developing a national-level database in GIS as part of its surveillance of disasters triggered by natural hazards. The country has existing building codes, and is moving towards an earthquake catastrophic insurance system for buildings. A detailed vulnerability assessment on flood and earthquake for the entire country is being carried out by RMSI, with the financial support of the World Bank. There are different organizations involved in seismic monitoring with their own monitoring networks (the National Institute of Research Development for Earth Physics, and the National Institute for Building Research), but it would be more efficient to have coordinated activities with a central database.

The General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (GIES) under the Ministry of Administration and Interior has set up the National Emergency Management System, which aims to prevent and manage emergency situations, to manage and coordinate emergency situations, and to manage and coordinate human, material and financial resources. GIES is working in close association with CMEPC and DPPI towards regional cooperation. GIES is also making an effort to coordinate with the World Health Organization and NATO on regional cooperation for prevention of natural or technological disasters and terrorist activities in the region. However, the coordination between the central ministry and the local bodies, and the involvement of other departments in disaster preparedness and prevention, all need to be strengthened.