1 in 4 Bucharest residents would be affected following a major earthquake. The Bucharest Community Foundation promotes individual training as the solution in the event of a seismic disaster


1 in 4 Bucharest residents would be affected following a major earthquake. The Bucharest Community Foundation promotes individual training as the solution in the event of a seismic disaster


One in four Bucharest residents would suffer significant losses in the event of a major earthquake, be it loss of life, loss of a relative or acquaintance, loss of shelter or job, etc., according to a calculation based on estimates from the Department for Emergency Situations. However, discussions about the necessary behavior or proper preparation are missing from the public space. The Bucharest Community Foundation, the initiator of the only program dedicated to preparing for earthquakes and other major disasters, Bucharest Prepared, is launching the “Your CTRL Plan” campaign on March 1st, which provides action models at a time when the 1977 earthquake is being commemorated.

Thus, the Foundation draws attention to the urgent need to put individual preparedness on the public agenda as a tool to increase the resilience of the Capital’s population to earthquakes. To this end, it proposes to use the collective memory of one national disaster to prevent another, which is why students from over 20 schools in Bucharest will be trained during the week of 4-8 March as part of the “Your CTRL Plan” campaign.

The Your CTRL Plan campaign is launched on 1 March 2024, with an open call to the press and media through which the Bucharest Community Foundation aims to bring the need for individual preparedness to the forefront of the public agenda.

As part of its open call to the press and media, the Foundation proposes to popularize best practices for public preparedness and rescuer safety used in other earthquake-vulnerable countries. By comparison, Istanbul has prepared more than 450,000 people with disaster response training. Italy’s Civil Protection Department has trained more than 400,000 people with volunteers over five years.

“As an engineer, I talk more about the danger of old buildings in Bucharest. But the problem is bigger than the buildings, and the worst seismic legacy is not just the buildings, but the mentality, according to which we end up treating training superficially,” says Matei Sumbasacu, founder of the Re:Rise Association, a construction engineer with a master’s degree in the analysis and structure of buildings at seismic risk.

“In every crisis, it has emerged that organizations have agendas and programs of their own. There is friction, we try to manage it diplomatically, but it will continue to exist after the earthquake. We are talking about institutional selfishness that we have seen and experienced, where everyone is with their own organization. The institutions we have represent our society. We cannot expect that after the earthquake, after the golden hour has passed, the institutions will be working properly. There will be 100 organizations providing water and none providing biscuits, things will be almost the same. But less like the pandemic, less like the Ukraine crisis. It will also happen in the case of the earthquake, it will also happen in Bucharest,” said Cosmina Simiean, head of the General Directorate of Social Assistance of the Municipality of Bucharest (DGASMB).

The campaign continues with a demonstration exercise in schools during the week of 4-8 March. 20 schools in Bucharest will open their doors to trainers from the Association for Education, Development and Youth Involvement – E.D.I.T. who will instruct 2,000 students on the correct behavior before, during, and after an earthquake. Earthquake preparedness classes or annual drills are needed in any city at risk of earthquakes, and this week’s lightning campaign could become a model for annual action taken by school authorities.

On 4 March, on the first day of the campaign, representatives of the E.D.I.T. Association will be present in secondary schools no. 80, 81, 97, 194, and 195 in Bucharest, and on 5 March they will visit secondary schools no. 32, 36, 131, “Tudor Arghezi” and “Ferdinand 1”. The campaign continues on 6 March in schools no. 5, “Elena Văcărescu”, “Pia Brătianu” and “Federico Garcia Lorca”, on 7 March in high schools “Ștefan Odobleja” and “Dimitrie Bolintineanu”, ending on 8 March in schools no. 113, 117, “Sfântul Andrei” and “Sfântul Calinic de la Cernica”.

In the 5 years since its launch, the Bucharest Prepared program has reached almost 20,000 students, from kindergarten, primary school, to middle school and high school, teachers, and parents who have been informed on seismic risk. In addition, more than 30,000 people were informed through ARCEN training guides, more than 600 people participated in community meetings on seismic risk, 17 search and rescue dogs under rubble were trained and 300,000 Bucharest residents were exposed to the communication campaigns developed through the funded projects.

Through the Bucharest Prepared Program, more than 1.7 million lei were granted and 13 projects were supported, and implemented by NGOs such as the Association for Education, Development and Youth Involvement – E.D.I.T., Romanian Association for Culture, Education and Normality – ARCEN in partnership with the Association for Seismic Risk Reduction – Re:Rise, Make Better Association – MKBT, Association of the Club of the Utility Dogs, Romanian National Red Cross Society, Sector 6 Branch, Romanian Amateur Radio Association, Medigate Association, Association for Development and Environment ADEMED.

Through funded projects, organizations have worked in the area of education and training in schools, information and training in neighborhoods, increasing the resilience of refugees and their supporting organizations, and increasing capacity for post-earthquake response.

“Every March 4, we remember the 1977 earthquake. We talk about it, get scared about what might happen, then quickly forget. With Bucharest Prepared, we invite Bucharest residents to look at the solutions we all have access to: the family plan, the emergency kit, and preparing their homes. Each of them could save our lives or those around us. We can make sense of our normal fear of disasters, as earthquake-prone populations all over the world do,” suggests Alina Kasprovschi, executive director of the Bucharest Community Foundation.

Bucharest, one of the top 10 cities in the world with the highest vulnerability to seismic risk

Romania’s capital, located in the Vrancea earthquake impact zone, with more than 1.7 million inhabitants, is among the European capitals with the highest disaster risk and is one of the top 10 cities in the world with the highest vulnerability to seismic risk, according to World Bank data. The conclusion is also influenced by the condition of buildings, with more than 23,000 residential buildings in Bucharest that could suffer serious damage in the next big earthquake and another 1,000 that could collapse, according to Bucharest’s 2022 Risk Analysis and Coverage Plan.

In Bucharest, there are several risk factors such as thousands of old or tall buildings, the underground metro network, a reservoir with an old dam that can flood a quarter of the city, and the largest gas distribution network. Also, all of Romania’s key state institutions are based in buildings at risk of earthquakes. A major earthquake could shut down the city for a significant period.

The World Bank estimated in its 2019 study that in the event of a major earthquake, the economic losses in Bucharest – from people’s lives to destroyed buildings, from the ceasing of production to the provision of shelter and food for evacuees – would amount to more than 10 billion euro, or 7% of GDP.

In this context, the Bucharest Community Foundation continues to develop seismic education initiatives and campaigns for the population through the Ready Bucharest program, which is initiated with the support of partners Lidl, ING Bank Romania, and IKEA.

Bucharest Prepared, the program for earthquake and other major disasters

Launched five years ago by the Bucharest Community Foundation, Bucharest Prepared aims to prepare Bucharest residents for the next major earthquake. The program pools private resources and supports projects that increase public awareness and education so that people know the right behaviors before, during, and after an earthquake, as well as creating a support system after the disaster. For more details, visit www.bucurestiulpregatit.ro

The Bucharest Community Foundation

The Bucharest Community Foundation brings together donors, NGOs, or initiative groups to develop communities where we feel at home. It builds donation mechanisms, funding funds, or incubators of ideas for the city. In 12 years, it has funded over 800 projects and grants in Bucharest and Ilfov with 4.7 million euro. The Bucharest Community Foundation is part of a national movement, along with 17 other community foundations across the country. For more details, visit www.fundatiacomunitarabucuresti.ro.


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