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Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation
News article3 June 2024Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, Joint Research Centre3 min read

Central Asia strengthens preparedness and response to health treats during mass gatherings via EU-funded tabletop exercise

mass gathering


Different forms of mass gatherings, whether they involve sport events, concerts, religious gatherings, or political rallies are an inherent part of communities worldwide. Organising such events pose unique challenges to emergency services due to the concentration of large numbers of people in confined spaces. Preventing incidents such as food poisoning or explosions on these occasions is of paramount importance for ensuring public safety and maintaining trust in institutions. 

A vivid simulation of a mass gathering scenario

As part of its mission to advance CBRN risk mitigation and strengthen security and safety worldwide, the European Union has supported a simultaneous tabletop exercise that tested preparedness and response capabilities to health threats during mass gatherings across Central Asia.

Organised within the framework of the EU CRBN Centres of Excellence, the two-day exercise (21 – 22 May 2024) was a vivid enactment of a mass gathering scenario, meticulously designed to challenge the preparedness capabilities of six participating countries, namely: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. All partner countries are members of the EU CBRN CoE Regional Secretariat for Central Asia.

The exercise was a significant milestone within the framework of the EU-funded project PRECA – ‘Preparedness and Response for Mass Gatherings and other Health Threats in Central Asia’

Public health challenges: water, food safety and chemical exposure

The exercise featured a dynamic scenario that introduced various public health challenges related to water, food safety, and chemical exposure. These challenges were presented through a series of timed injects, simulating real-time developments that required immediate and coordinated responses. 

As the scenario evolved, the participants engaged in discussions, conducting threat and risk assessments and presenting situation reports. These discussions were critical in testing the operational plans, command-and-control structures, and communication protocols that had been established through the EU-funded project supporting the exercise: EU CBRN COE Project PRECA – ‘Preparedness and Response for Mass Gatherings and other Health Threats in Central Asia’.

PRECA Tabletop May 2024 1
Tabletop exercise in Pakistan

Enhancing national plans for future mass gaherings

The major objective of exercise was to evaluate the effectiveness of national emergency response systems and the expert input provided by project-trained individuals, as well as to test international communication across borders and with external bodies. The exercise helped to identify lessons learned and areas for improvement, enhancing national plans for future mass gatherings.

The successful completion of the exercise showcased the enhanced readiness of Central Asia to handle public health threats at mass gatherings, reinforced by the collaborative efforts and extensive training provided over the past few years with the support of the EU CBRN CoE. The exercise not only tested the existing systems but also paved the way for continuous improvement in health preparedness and response strategies across the region.

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Tabletop exercise in Kyrgyz Republic

Bolstering health preparedness and response via training

Since its inception in July 2021, the EU CRBN CoE Project 87 has provided comprehensive training to over 100 experts from each participating country. These trainings covered crucial areas such as food safety, water safety at mass gatherings, chemical threat mitigation, and effective command, control, and communication strategies. 

The trainings also equipped the partner countries with the necessary equipment for training and incident response, fostering a robust network of preparedness and response capabilities.

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Tabletop exercise in Kazakhstan

Strengthening preparedness and response for mass gatherings and health threats in Central Asia

The European Union supported the simultaneous tabletop exercise in Central Asia as part of the EU CBRN CoE Project 87 “Preparedness and Response for Mass Gatherings and Other Health Threats in Central Asia (PRECA)”.

Implemented within the framework of the EU CBRN Centres of Excellence InitiativePRECA is a regional initiative aimed at strengthening response and preparedness for potential health threats stemming from mass gatherings in partner countries in Central Asia. The participating countries include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Funded by the European Union, the project is implemented by the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in close cooperation with national experts from Partner Countries, CoE National Focal Points in Central Asia, UNICRI, the CoE Regional Secretariat and the EU Delegations in the participating countries.

Read PRECA factsheet to learn more about the activities implemented and the main achievements. 


CBRN areas
  • Bio-safety/bio-security
  • Crisis management
  • Public health impact mitigation
  • Safety and security
CBRN categories
  • Chemical
  • Biological
CoE Region
  • CA - Central Asia