Peripatetic Event

The Armenian History of Disasters: Threats and Solutions

When looking at Armenian history, it’s sadly apparent how much this country has been through in terms of pain and struggle. From the horrors of the Armenian Genocide to the unpredictable nature of the Soviet Occupation, the Eurasian state has suffered a lot of hardship throughout its lifetime. While much of the strife that this country has experienced comes in the form of political tension and external oppression, it’s also worth noting that Armenia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

However, while it may seem as if all the odds are stacked against Armenia, we can’t ignore the developments it’s made as a state in terms of disaster response and management. In this piece, we’re going to break down the hazards that have caused damage throughout Armenian history, while also putting the spotlight on the steps forward that the country has made in disaster risk mitigation.

Disaster Hazards in Armenia

As one of the most disaster-prone countriesin the world (exclusive of coastal disasters), Armenia can suffer fairly significant losses when hit with seismic activity and extreme weather events. It’s also important to remember that due to the state of poverty in Armenia, the disasters that do strike can seriously impact its population.


Armenia is positioned in a zone that’s highly prone to earthquakes, with the most devastating in recent history being the Armenian Earthquake of 1988, the shockwaves of which are still being felt today. The event measured at 6.9 on the Richter Scale, killing over 25,000, along with injuring and displacing people in the hundreds of thousands, while also causing massive damage to the country’s infrastructure.


Armenia experiences seasonal flooding, with especially notable instances fuelled by snowmelt and heavy rainfall during spring months. One significant example of flooding in Armenia was the 2003 flood, during which the four rivers of Tavush overflowed, displacing hundreds of families, injuring many, and inflicting significant damage on both farmland and infrastructure.


Armenia’s mountainous landscape makes it susceptible to landslides, especially considering the conditions facilitated by heavy rainfall or seismic activity. As a convergence of flooding and earthquake effects, landslides can cause serious damage to private property, infrastructure, and agricultural land, with Armenian landslides reportedly causing $10-30 million in damages yearly.


Even in the context of the country experiencing serious flooding, climate change has also resulted in much of Armenia being severely threatened by droughts and desertification – approximately 80%

of the country in various degrees and over 50% threatened severely. Drought-related crop failures could lead to severe economic hardship without proper monitoring and a solid risk management process.

Forest Fires

Forest fires are a commonly recurring hazard in Armenia, especially in regions like the Dilijan National Park and Tavush Province. From 2001 to 2022, Armenia lost 338 ha of tree cover from fires, with 107 fires reported In 2017 alone. Wildfires are a threat to general biodiversity and natural ecosystems, while they can also spread to human settlements and property.

Winter Storms and Avalanches

Armenia also experiences especially severe winters, with northern regions experiencing heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, compounded into intense storms. These storms can cause damage, power outages, and transport disruptions. Avalanches, while often caused by human factors, can threaten travellers and wider communities alike.

As you can see, weather events and seismic activity have long been a scourge on Armenia, and with the consistently increasing influence of climate change, things aren’t going to stop by themselves. With a GDP of only around $7,018 per capita, the Armenian people aren’t necessarily equipped to deal with or recover from these sorts of events.

Disaster Response and Management in Armenia

Due to the unstable state of Armenian history, widespread disaster response jobs and initiatives have taken some time to become more prevalent in the country’s cultural landscape. However, that’s not to imply that there haven’t been some fairly significant steps made in recent years.

One such example of an active move to protect the state came from the government in 2002, when The Law on Seismic Protectioncame into play – this law made protections for the Armenian people in the face of earthquakes a government responsibility by law.

The provisions of Seismic Protection included:

  • Improved Preparedness: Establishing task forces and state programs was designed to enhance immediate disaster response efforts and long-term planning.
  • Enhanced Safety Measures: The law laid out the vitality of regular risk assessment and reduction measures, ideally resulting in stricter building codes, reinforcing existing infrastructure, and the creation of warning systems.
  • Increased Public Awareness: Armenia was set to enhance public awareness of the earthquake risks and preparedness through educational and media campaigns.
  • Government Accountability: Seismic protection was designed to hold the government more accountable for implementing seismic protection measures.
  • Infrastructure Development: A big part of the plan was to strengthen buildings, lifelines, and cultural monuments, generally enhancing Armenia’s infrastructure.
  • Economic Stability: The increased resilience that the law intended to establish was meant to improve economic stability – vital in a state like Armenia where an earthquake could have devastating economic consequences.
  • International Cooperation: Armenia was to commit to international participation, allowing them access to more global resources, knowledge, and assistance.

However, while this law was brought in, it’s hard to measure its positive impact on the state, with recovery efforts still taking place since the 1988 earthquake well into the 2010s. That’s not to mention that the legislation simply didn’t account for the plethora of other disasters that Armenia is prone to.

A New Chapter in Armenian History

Despite past hardships, it’s clear positive steps are being taken by certain organisations. For example, the UNDP Armenia is a sect of the wider United Nations Development Programme, focused on strengthening Armenia in a variety of contexts from environmental to economic. Another promising organisation is the Crisis Management State Academy(CMSA), an academy with multiple locations in the country, dedicated to providing rescue operations training at a Bachelor’s Degree level.

Projects like this show that Armenia’s future prospects could be much brighter.

Introducing Mr. Armen Chilingaryan & Mrs. Lilit Minasyan

This year at Disasters Expo Europe, we’re proud to announce that we’ll be hosting Mr. Armen Chilingaryan (UNDP) & Mrs. Lilit Minasyan (CMSA) in our Keynote Theatre. Together, they’ll be delivering a seminar titled: Armenia`s Path to Risk-Informed Development – offering insights into a more comprehensive roadmap toward sustainable security for the country.

Mr. Armen Chilingaryan

As Disaster Risk Management Programme Manager at UNDP Armenia, Armen is highly qualified to give this seminar. Over 15 years of experience in disaster risk management and many related fields shows just how suitable Chilingaryan is for operating in a multifaceted and multicultural environment like Disasters Expo Europe, and we’re thrilled to have him.

Mrs. Lilit Minasyan

Lilit Minasyan is a Lecturer, GIS, and Climate Change Adaptation Expert, making her a similarly effective choice to deliver this speech. Her over 17 years of experience in many fields related to environmental hazards, along with an extensive past of developing data visualisations of data using various packages in R. I. show just how wide her knowledge and expertise are.

Register for tickets today if you want to catch this seminar and a range of other insightful talks across the event. Together, we can push the disaster efforts of Europe and beyond to the next level!

Find Disasters Expo Europe listed on PreventionWeb


{mentions: UNDP | Crisis Management State Academy }