KSA prepares long-term strategy to deal with natural disasters

KSA prepares long-term strategy to deal with natural disasters
Updated 18 November 2013

KSA prepares long-term strategy to deal with natural disasters

KSA prepares long-term strategy to deal with natural disasters

Saudi Arabia is drawing up a long-term strategy in cooperation with the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) to face natural disasters in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), said Abdulaziz bin Omar Al-Jasser, president of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) and chairman of the executive bureau of Arab and Islamic environment ministers.
Addressing a regional consultation workshop on natural disasters in the MENA region in Jeddah on Sunday, Al-Jasser said Saudi Arabia is playing an important role in the region, where natural disasters are on the increase.
The two-day workshop is hosted by the PME and organized in joint partnership with the World Bank with the participation of more than 15 countries representing the MENA region to discuss natural disasters and propose solutions to move forward in disaster risk management.
Floods, earthquakes and droughts are major events affecting the region. While the absolute number of disasters around the world has doubled since the 1980s, natural disasters in the MENA region have tripled during the same period.
Floods are the most recurring hazard in the region, followed by earthquakes and droughts. The 2009 floods in Jeddah caused losses amounting to SR3 billion ($800 million).
In recent years, member governments have requested the World Bank’s assistance in defining and financing economic recovery and reconstruction programs following natural disasters.
To define the extent of post-disaster programs, the bank has utilized the methodology of disaster and loss assessment initially developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC). The methodology has been applied successfully since 1972 in the Latin American and Caribbean region. It has also been applied in Asia and Africa.
“We have some very good success stories but we are also looking at the experiences from countries around the world,” said Franck Bousquet, World Bank sector manager for urban and social development and disaster risk management at the sustainable development department for the MENA region. He said that the World Bank is working with the GFDRR, which is a trust fund. “It provides financial aid to countries on disaster risk management.”
He added that lack of expertise often proves more of a problem than lack of resources. “That is why we need to share leading practices and provide expertise to all the countries in this area,” he said.
“The fund depends on the severity of the impact. The bank is involved in many countries and the funding depends on the needs of each country, which are not on the same level.”
Private sector participation is very important. “Especially during the response mode, but also during the prevention stage, the private sector has a key role to play. It is important to see how we can leverage the expertise but also resources from the private sector,” he added.