Estonian municipalities have become more crisis-resilient

The level of crisis preparedness of Estonian municipalities has increased by a quarter in a year, according to an analysis of local government service levels in 2023. Harju County is the most crisis-resilient, while small islands have also made a big leap.

‘Municipalities are increasingly paying attention to helping residents in times of crisis – expanding the network of resilience centres, setting up evacuation points, involving volunteers, and staying updated on risk groups most in need. It is very good to see that there are no more so-called red municipalities this year, where crisis preparedness is not dealt with,’ said Toomas Kääparin, Head of the Civil Protection Department of the Estonian Rescue Board. ‘At the Estonian Rescue Board, we are willing to support municipalities in developing their crisis preparedness in every way possible, and that is why we have involved and will continue to involve them in various exercises this year to practice cooperation and coping with the unexpected. In addition, we will assess what more can be done and how, based on the index and the training and exercises we have done so far.’

According to the analysis, crisis management, crisis resolution, and recovery capacities have also improved. However, the indicator for compliance with crisis management requirements has fallen, which may also be due to exceeding deadlines for the submission of documents. Municipalities rate their risk communication capacity as the strongest, with it reaching the highest level according to the data for 2023.

‘We can see that training and support rounds are helping municipalities make significant leaps in achieving crisis resilience – we have organised various seminars and support rounds in recent years to increase the risk communication skills, operational continuity, and crisis preparedness of municipalities,’ said Kääparin. ‘In the coming years, many municipalities will incur additional responsibilities for monitoring and creating risk analyses as they become operators of critical services. This will involve a need for training, advice, and practical implementation.’

In October of this year, the Emergency Act will be amended, and from then on, all municipalities will have to prepare a risk analysis and an emergency response and contingency plan (ERCP). So far, only 33 municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants have been obliged to do so. All municipalities will also become operators of essential services (water and sewerage, drivability of local roads, and district heating).

Kääparin added that the most important thing is the willingness of municipality leaders and communities to make a difference. ‘We are best placed to support those who are active. The first step is being aware of the risks and the second is looking for solutions. Positive surprises include the small islands of Kihnu, Ruhnu, and Vormsi, which were in the red according to the previous analysis, but have now taken their preparations seriously and have become very crisis-resilient. In addition, Tallinn, Sillamäe, the city and rural municipality of Rakvere, and the Harku, Jõelähtme, and Saue rural municipalities have reached the highest level of crisis preparedness. These exemplary municipalities have shown an active and proper approach. In addition to real action, it is also important to keep the paperwork in order and meet deadlines – this will give us the best overview and a more accurate crisis index indicator.’

The results can be found in more detail in the portal