By Berta Acero
Cairo – The Making Cities Resilient Campaign has received a major boost from North Africa with seven Tunisian cities signing up with commitments to make their municipalities safer.
Bizerte, Mornag, Thala, Sbiba, Jidiliène, Foussana and Hydra join the capital Tunis, Tadamen M'nihla and Ain Draham as Tunisia’s representatives in the vibrant worldwide campaign that now boasts more than 1,780 municipalities worldwide.
Participating cities monitor their progress against Ten Essentials for making cities resilient. The campaign also hooks up municipalities in city to city learning initiatives.
A Disaster Resilient Scorecard for Cities, developed by IBM and AECOM under the umbrella of the campaign, is also emerging as a useful tool.
The Scorecard facilitates a set of assessments that enables cities to understand how resilient they are. It is intended to help cities establish a baseline measurement of their current level of disaster resilience and to track their progress over time.
Mr. Mungy El Abeidy, Chief of the Special Delegation in Mornag municipality, which is among the seven cities that have joined, said: “The city’s commitment to the campaign is a first step towards taking the necessary action to become resilient to disasters and specifically to flood risks.
“For proper sustainable development and a safer environment, the city is looking forward to strong cooperation with other campaign cities in sharing experiences to achieve resilience.”
Tunisia has made significant progress in developing resilience at the national level in recent years. Last December the country took an important step to strengthen its national disaster management with the establishment of a new disaster loss database.
This new tool revealed that over the past 30 years Tunisia had experienced 2,495 disasters that caused 1,075 deaths and US$ 756 million in economic losses.
In 2013 Tunisia also finalized its first ever progress report on the implementation of the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA), the international framework that outlines disaster reduction priorities and actions to reduce losses in lives and livelihoods by 2015.
Prior to that, in 2012, the Government of Tunisia announced the establishment of a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), a national multi-stakeholder mechanism in charge of providing coordination and analysis of DRR.
The Tunisian city of Ain Draham, which joined UNISDR’s campaign last November, has recently been selected also to be part of the Arab Cities Disaster Resilient initiative.
The project, developed by The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNISDR and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), aims to promote safety from disaster risk in Arab cities through implementation of the “Aqaba Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities”.
This Declaration, adopted during the First Arab Conference on DRR held in Aqaba, Jordan, in 2013, prescribes 16 targets for local and national governments until 2017.
Mr. Amjad Abbashar, UNISDR's Head of the Arab States office, said: “There is a growing commitment and awareness in Tunisia to reduce disaster impacts. In addition to their efforts in providing analysis of disaster risk reduction at the national level, the campaign will help them measure the progress of their local governments in reducing risk.”
Over the years Tunisia has suffered several disasters. In 1982 severe floods struck the city of Sfax, causing loss of life and economic losses of $80 million. In September 2009, flash floods killed 17 people in the south and east.
Forest fires, snow storms, landslides as well as environmental challenges, such as water scarcity, land degradation and desertification, challenge the country, whose coastal zone is also vulnerable to sea level rise.