Speaking on LTV's 'Morning Panorama' news show October 12, Kristīne Jaunzeme, a member of the State Audit Council, said the State Audit Office had conducted an audit to evaluate whether the civil defense and disaster management system has improved since 2016. The conclusions of the audit are generally negative, she said.
The Covid-19 pandemic had exposed some of the shortcomings in the current system, she explained: "In order to compensate for the shortcomings of the existing disaster institutional management model, during the Covid-19 pandemic it was largely replaced by various 'ad hoc' institutions. The search for the most suitable pandemic management model continued throughout the pandemic, mostly 'ad hoc'. Those involved in the institutions and their leaders were not previously trained and prepared for disaster management in crisis situations."
Currently there is a large system in which many participate but no one is responsible, the audit found. Its recommendations include: preparing national and local government civil defense plans should be reviewed so that they are useful in disaster management, establishing a system that would ensure regular civil defense exercises and include the participation of all parties involved, involving society more in risk assessment and disaster management measures, and allocating appropriate funding for the creation of state material reserves.
In the opinion of the State Audit Office, one of the first things to be done is to improve the institutional model of disaster management, so that there is a clear division of responsibility of the institutions involved in disaster management, the institutions have the necessary resources and capacity at their disposal, and solutions are provided for the management of comprehensive disasters affecting the entire country and many sectors.
There is also a recommendation to create a high-level institution "for the coordination, development planning and monitoring of the deconcentrated and decentralized disaster management system, so that the disaster management system established in Latvia can function effectively".
In the opinion of the State Audit Office, such an institution could act as a center of competence in civil defense and crisis management, including providing support to the government, ministries and municipalities in disaster management and, as necessary, coordinating the management of disasters. Similar coordinating bodies operate, for example, in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Estonia, the auditors said.
The full findings of the audit are available (in Latvian) at: https://www.lrvk.gov.lv/lv/revizijas/revizijas/noslegtas-revizijas/vai-valsti-defineta-ricibpolitika-civilas-aizsardzibas-joma-var-nodrosinat-efektivas-civilas-aizsardzibas-un-katastrofu-parvaldisanas-sistemas-izveidi-atbilstosi-es-limeni-atzitai-labajai-praksei-un-pienemtajiem-tiesibu-aktiem