Including earthquakes and drought.. the Arab region faces wholesale risks

On November 10, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Arab Region launched its report on the state of Arab countries and their progress in mitigating disaster risks and the problems they face in achieving this, entitled “Regional Assessment for Disaster Risk Mitigation in the Region”. Arabic 2021.

and was launched the report During the third day of the activities of the Fifth Arab Regional Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction, which was organized by the Moroccan government from November 8 to 11, through the technology of remote lectures, under the title “From Danger to Resilience… Accelerating Activity to Mitigating Disaster Risks”.

The authors of the report believe that the Arab region is rapidly moving towards a situation in which it may become unable to face the risks of disasters such as epidemics, the effects of climate change, conflicts and water scarcity, risks that will be exacerbated by unsustainable production and consumption patterns, as well as social problems and lack of material funding.

wholesale disasters

The report enumerated the Arab countries’ suffering from several dangers, such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, armed conflicts, and others, which are risks that are likely to be repeated at any time and sharply, and their consequences will be dire if governments do not take further necessary measures to mitigate them.

The report recorded that at least 15% of the population of the Arab region was exposed to the risk of floods that increased in severity in the past two decades, by a third compared to 1970, and this is mainly due to the fragility of infrastructure in cities and the lack of green spaces that absorb rain.

Among the dangers faced by some Arab countries, we find the tropical cyclones that earlier struck Yemen, Oman, Djibouti and Somalia, and the Oman cyclone in 2007 was the strongest among them, causing material losses of $4 billion and the displacement of about 20,000 citizens.

The droughts that the region has experienced during the past 50 years, especially in Iraq, Morocco, Syria and Yemen, have caused millions of deaths, land degradation, biodiversity loss, livestock shortages and a lack of agricultural crops.

The report recorded that at least 15% of the population of the Arab region was exposed to the risk of flooding (communication sites)

Dr. Fadi Hamdan, an independent consultant specializing in disaster risk mitigation, said during a seminar to launch the report, which was organized on the morning of November 10, “The drought is among the most serious disasters that Arab countries have known in the past 50 years, as it caused dozens of deaths. Millions, and its rate is expected to rise in the future.”

The spokesman added, “Many natural disasters are closely related to climate changes, such as droughts, hurricanes, floods, and forest fires, which are disasters that increase in severity due to the concentration of population in cities,” noting in another context that the Corona epidemic “caused the loss of 17 million jobs, which is This negatively affects the Arab population’s exposure to risks.”

In Syria alone, the drought that occurred in the period from 2006 to 2010 destroyed the farms of about 800,000 residents and left millions without food.

The report recorded an increase in the number of forest fires, especially in the southern Mediterranean countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon, and the latter alone counted about 1,200 fires since 1981.

Earthquakes and droughts are the deadliest

As for earthquakes, the report stated that more than 30% of the population of the Arab region live in areas of high or medium risk, especially the countries of the southern Mediterranean.

In the context, the report referred to the earthquake in the Moroccan city of Agadir, which struck it in February 1960 and caused the death of 15,000 out of 36,000 citizens, even though the earthquake’s magnitude was 5.8. Today, the city of Agadir counts about 400,000 residents, and the risk of earthquakes still exists at any moment.

According to the map provided by the report, the number of disasters related to earthquakes, epidemics, water scarcity and drought is the most frequent and widespread during the past two decades, especially drought, which Hamdan confirmed.

During the past four decades, Algeria ranked first in terms of the amount of material losses it incurred, due to the Chlef earthquakes in 1980 and Boumerdes in 2003, both of which amounted to 10.200 billion dollars in losses.

DroughtThe number of disasters related to earthquakes, epidemics, water scarcity and drought are the most frequent during the past two decades (Getty Images)

Oman ranked second, which lost about $4 billion in the cyclone that hit it in 2007, followed by Yemen, which lost $1.2 billion in the 1982 earthquake.

These risks are intensified in some fragile areas, where the report recorded an increase in the number of poor people whose daily income does not exceed two dollars, from 4% of the total population in 2013 to 6.7% in 2015.

The Lebanese Dr. Yasmine Mostafa from the United Nations Population Office in Cairo said during the symposium, “The Arab region is experiencing a rapid urbanization pattern, and therefore urban residents are the most vulnerable to risks. In 2016, the number of urban residents in the Arab region was 58%, and we expect it to reach about 80%. In 2050, we fear that this expansion will be in a chaotic manner so that unsafe and non-compliant areas will abound.”

The spokeswoman added that “these risks will be exacerbated by the spread of poverty, as 18% of the Arab population currently lives below the poverty line, in addition to the aggravation of the unemployment problem, which has reached 10%, which is among the highest rates in the world, and also the large number of armed conflicts that cause migration within and outside the borders, and the attendant pressure on services.

What to do

It appears, according to the report’s findings, that the Arab countries have a lot of work and diligence to do in order to improve their situation in dealing with disaster risks and adapting to them, in line with the Sendai Global Convention for Disaster Risk Mitigation ratified by countries and whose effect extends from 2015 to 2030.

In this regard, the Lebanese Dr. Mirna Abu Atta from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Mitigation in the Arab Region said that Arab countries face several obstacles to disaster risks, including the absence of early warning systems for multiple hazards, and the lack of statistical data.

Abu Atta explained in the symposium, “There is not enough statistical data in most Arab countries, and sharing the small amount available from this data is not enough, and this hinders our work in evaluating the situation and providing advice, and therefore what is required today from Arab governments to make more efforts to develop their capabilities in Facing risks by collecting data first.

The spokeswoman added, “The Arab countries should also work to update their national strategies, make their laws more adaptable to climatic conditions and risks, and provide sufficient financial support to implement plans and strategies, increase investment, and raise the degree of coordination with countries that suffer from armed conflicts.”

As for the Egyptian Dr. Walid Al-Rayyan, a professor of Earth sciences at Cairo University and a consultant in disaster mitigation, he focused in his speech on the problems of financing in the Arab region, and said that “finance is one of the most important problems facing countries in implementing their plans, and it was the subject of discussion in Many international conferences, especially in the Ethiopia conference held in December of 2019.”

He added that there is a large financial gap in the Arab region in the field of implementing disaster risk mitigation strategies, which is estimated at about $100 billion, while it has reached $3 trillion worldwide.

In order to reduce this gap, Al-Rayyan called for the necessity of involving the private sector in the investment path and not relying entirely on government funding, because many Arab governments cannot provide the necessary funding, noting at the same time that the contribution of the private sector to financing such projects is many countries The world has reached 70%, and the Arab countries must work to achieve this.

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