By Berta Acero
Cairo – A regional meeting of experts held in Cairo could result in a doubling of the number of Arab countries that systematically report on disaster losses.
UNISDR brought together over 40 participants from 15 Arab countries to discuss and exchange experiences on establishing national disaster loss databases. These disaster inventories (www.desinventar.net) enable countries to analyze disaster trends and their impacts in a systematic manner through the collection of historical disaster data.
The strong engagement by these Arab countries in the regional meeting suggests that the number of Arab States that will report on disaster losses could double by 2013. Currently seven out of the 22 Arab countries which are members of the League of Arab States, have either completed, or are in the process of completing, national disaster loss databases. They are Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon Morocco, Syria and Yemen.
“The importance of evidence in disaster risk reduction is unquestionable. A good understanding of the nature and geography of disaster risks in Arab States is critical to implement interventions for disaster prevention and mitigation”, stated Mr. Amjad Abbashar, the Head of the Regional Office for Arab States.
The Palestinian Civil Protection has expressed its interest in establishing a disaster losses database. Engineer Ammar Salamah stated that “the disaster inventory is a very systematic and informative way to influence decision makers in my country and emphasize the importance of disaster risk reduction investments and programmes”.
“Learning about establishing disaster losses databases has been a great opportunity for us. The disaster related information obtained will help us to develop our disaster risk messages and inform our planning”, stated Mr. Ahmed Hussein, from the National Committee for Disaster Management in Bahrain.
UNISDR and UNDP have been collaborating since 2009 to support an increasing number of countries to develop and institutionalize national disaster loss databases as a critical tool for informed risk analysis and the development of disaster risk reduction policies.
In the Arab region, UNISDR has provided seven national training workshops between 2010 and 2011 in Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Yemen. As a result, in 2011, three disaster loss databases were published and for the first time the Arab region was able to contribute to the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Reduction, presented in Geneva last May 2011.
“If there is no systematic collection of disaster loss data, there is no way to learn from the past”, Mr. Abbashar added.
Participants also held consultations on the implementation framework of the Arab Strategy for Disaster Reduction, which was adopted by the League of Arab States. This blue print for coherent regional action in disaster risk reduction will be translated into national level disaster risk reduction activities.
In addition, the meeting was a good opportunity to exchange good practices and challenges in the region, including the implementation of the “Hyogo Framework of Action (2005-2015) – Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters” or HFA.
Mr. Saleh Al Mansoori, from National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority in the United Arab Emirates, stated: “This has been a key step for us to engage in the implementation of the HFA. We are looking forward to foster our cooperation with UNISDR in the future and make sure we strengthen resiliency to disasters at the regional level”.
The “Regional Meeting to Advance Disaster Risk Reduction” held in April 2012 brought together experts from Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, including important regional partners such as the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arabian Gulf University and the Regional Centre for DRR Training and Research .
For more information on the Arab States visit: www.unisdr.org/arabstates