Planning, development and conduct of a Union Civil Protection Exercise project to improve the response to an earthquake in South East Europe

Aim of this project is to strengthen disaster preparedness in the Western Balkans (WB), increase interoperability, enable cooperation for international disaster response and bring ALB and BiH closer to the UCPM. The Civil Protection (CP) situation of ALB, BiH and MNE will be analysed, joint planning conducted, and an exercise planning guide developed. This will be tested in a TTX, CPX and FSX (Action 2.2. Annual Work programme). After an evaluation, recommendations for implementation of the results into national CP plans will be offered. The consortium will: a) assess the CP situation and training capacities in the mentioned countries b) draft a guide for preparation and conduct of exercises c) hold joint planning conferences d) implement a Tabletop Exercise (TTX) e) conduct a Command Post Exercise (CPX) f) perform a Joint FSX g) provide an Evaluation including a Lessons Learned process and recommendations for national CP plans h) finalise exercise planning guide The project is designed to achieve an overall strengthening of disaster preparedness in the WB while increasing interoperability and HNS measures for regional and international disaster response as well as conduct capacity building by training and exercising.

Project objectives are:
To analyse the CP situation in ALB, BiH and MNE; Conduct joint exercise planning; Prepare and conduct one joint TTX, CPX, and FSX; Conduct evaluation and conclude with a lessons learned procedure and recommend a way ahead for the region; Develop an exercise planning guide.

Expected results and deliverables:
The overall expected result is to enable the response to a large-scale disaster in the region by creating interoperability between all involved actors, and enable support to vulnerable groups; Prepare Main Event List (MEL) and Main Inject List (MIL) for the exercises; A Lessons Learned event; Exercise planning guide; Inform the planned update of cooperation SOP between ERCC and UNDAC system.

An in-depth analysis of the CP situation and exercise capacities in ALB/BiH/MNE
Based on existing disaster risk assessments of the three countries, it is necessary to further analyse the existing CP situation (coping capabilities) as well as capacities (training sites) for conducting CP exercises. This will also include a consideration of hazards and risks, vulnerabilities, CP capacities and gaps, including a thorough documentation of potential safety and security issues. This will be done in the first three months of the project via desk review and field assessment (if no COVID problems). The results will be cross checked with the three countries’ focal points, under inclusion of the R2R results of the World Bank Analysis 2020.

Joint planning with partners
To increase planning and training capabilities in the countries, a joint planning of all exercises is foreseen. The planning process will be done for TTX according to the FSX scenario, for CPX on coordination between UN, EU, affected states and supporting states and for a joint FSX after three planning conferences with all partners and some additional experts from UCPM Participating States. The conferences will be in April, September and November 2021 to prepare the exercises always starting with a Steering committee meeting, afterwards planning conference with all teams / relevant organisations (including networking) and a field visit.

Development of an exercise planning guide
After the first planning conference the joint development of an exercise planning guide will start and should at the end strengthen the countries in their training/planning departments as e.g. ALB is setting up such a department/program now. Before the TTX in July 2021 a first draft of such a guide should be ready and after TTX, CPX and FSX adapted accordingly to have a sustainable, forward-looking guide for them.

Prepare and conduct one TTX in MNE
To prepare for the FSX, a TTX according to the FSX scenario will be jointly planned to include EU HNS guidelines, their national disaster response plan, and procedures of the UCPM. The results will then be evaluated and implemented in the planning of the CPX and FSX. This TTX will be conducted in July 2021.

Prepare and conduct one CPX in ALB
After analysis of the TTX, the results will be included in the joint planning of a CPX in which cooperation between UN / EU / the states of the consortium and ALB and MNE will be tested. Especially the cooperation between ERCC’s of UN and EU as well as the Emergency Operation Centres of ALB, BiH and MNE will be included, the results will then be also fed into the planning of the FSX.

Prepare and conduct one FSX in BiH
An FSX is planned in BiH in the area of Sarajevo between Monday 4th – Friday 8th April 2022. The FSX will start with teams in the region (ALB, BiH, MNE) to be deployed, to assess the situation and define needs. In the following days, an EUCPT plus TAST team will arrive at Sarajevo airport, where an RDC will be set up. For exercises purposes, a day before the exercise, an RDC at the Port of Kotor, MNE, will be set-up with personnel from BiH, MNE and ALB. The exercise will be an optimal environment for the certification of either TAST or IT Help desk teams or if requested a mountain rescue team. Special attention will be given on cooperation between the three countries – ALB, BiH and MNE to strengthen their cooperation and deepen their knowledge about UCPM and its procedures.

Evaluation, Lessons Learned and way ahead
The whole project will be evaluated by experienced partner from DSU, the results after each step will be implemented for the next step in the project. By this, it is possible to adapt the project (in consent with the project officer) to get out the best possible outcome of the project targeting the overall aim. At the end of the project cycle, a lesson learned report will be designed and discussed with all partners, the beneficiaries, and the ERCC. As the results of the projects will have significance for the whole region, the DPPI SEE network will be invited to present and discuss the outcomes and lessons with the CP organisations of the overall region. Before the final meeting, a CP seminar for SEE will be offered in Brussels to present the results of the project after the FSX to further support the region with a jointly developed exercise planning guide.