"Lebanon is getting ready” for Disaster Risk Reduction
Recent natural disasters in the world reminded all countries of the importance of disaster risk reduction and management to avoid human devastation and escalating economic losses.
Lebanon is not an exception as it is also subjected to earthquakes, floods and forest fires which threaten lives, livelihoods, homes, basic social services and community infrastructure. In 1956, an important earthquake hit the village of Chhim, and in the spring of 2008, more than 500 smaller scale earthquakes shook mainly South Lebanon and several houses were damaged in the village of Srifa. In Tripoli, a flood led to the death of 400 people in 1955.
Aware of the urgent need of disaster risk reduction policies and action, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – Disaster Risk Reduction Unit held a conference to launch the “Lebanon is getting ready” campaign, on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. Under the High Patronage of H.E Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the event took place at the Grand Serail on Tuesday 12 October 2010, in the presence of Mr. Fadi Fawwaz representing the Prime Minister, Ms. Marta Ruedas, UNDP Resident Representative and a number of ministers, deputies, ambassadors, international and Nongovernmental organizations.
The UNDP disaster risk management project focuses on building institutional capacity for disaster risk reduction and management in the Prime Minister’s Office. The project will be supporting a national risk assessment for the country, and as a first step, is completed a comprehensive inventory of existing frameworks, assessments, and expertise in disaster risk reduction.
“This event is important, as it sends a clear signal of the commitment of the Government of Lebanon to take forward the disaster management agenda” said Ms. Ruedas. She explained that, for the first time, Lebanon will be reporting on its progress towards the implementation of the five priorities included in the Hyogo Framework of Action, developed by the UN Member States to provide a plan of action on disaster risk reduction and to advocate a culture of prevention. “In addition to that, an inclusive process, bringing together representatives from Government, national institutions and civil society, is currently underway to establish the baseline for Lebanon,” she added.
Mr. Fawwaz highlighted the engagement of the Prime Minister in the disaster risk preparedness and response, explaining that “disaster risk reduction is one of the government’s priorities, in addition to providing technical services; the government should make sure that its citizens are protected and safe.”
During the event, Head of Municipalities of Beirut, Sidon, Baalbek, Tyre, Tripoli, and Byblos received awards for joining “My city is getting ready” campaign, which aims at making these cities more resilient and at raising awareness and commitment for sustainable development practices.
Furthermore, UNDP launched three TV and radio spots on disaster risk prevention which can be viewed on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/undplebanon. The programme will also start a series of activities to raise awareness and sensitize the Lebanese public on disaster risk reduction, in partnership with the Government and other non-governmental partners.
It is worth mentioning that in 2001, the General Assembly decided to maintain the observance of the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction on the second Wednesday of October as a vehicle to promote a global culture of natural disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.