Armen Grigoryan, Climate change and disaster risk reduction expert for UNDP in Europe and Central Asia, recalls the tragedy that changed the course of his life.

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Children in north Armenia commemorate the Spitak earthquake. Photo: Jodi Hilton/UNDP
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Nune Movsisyan was 21 years old when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Spitak, levelling her house with her inside. Photo: UNDP Armenia
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Armenia lies in one of the most seismically active regions of the world. Earthquakes have affected large numbers of people and caused significant economic losses over the past 30 years.
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The population, economy, and environment of Armenia are highly vulnerable to natural hazards.
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The aftermath

The earthquake in Spitak triggered the first wave of Armenian emigration in modern history. In total, 500,000 left, having lost their jobs, homes and in many cases friends and relatives.

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Preparedness and recovery

One of the by-products of the earthquake was the creation of a UN mechanism that immediately deploys national search and rescue teams to disaster sites. That system has served hundreds of disasters and saved thousands of people.

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Developing seismic building codes and standards is part of the preparedness framework.
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A Disaster Risk Reduction National Platform was established in 2010.

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