22 July, Beirut: More than twenty journalists from Lebanese radio, television and print media, as well as communication officers from the Lebanese government, attended a two-day media training in Beirut on how to cover disasters from a prevention angle.
The media training took place from 20-21 July and was organized by the Lebanese Ministry of Information with the support of UNDP and UNISDR. The training showed the commitment of the government to increase disaster risk reduction awareness among the public at large.
The journalists and communication officers who took part in the media training agreed on increasing the media coverage on disaster risk reduction issues in the country, particularly on forest fires, which is the most immediate disaster threat that will be faced by Lebanese in the coming months.
“We hope that Lebanese media will cover disasters from a more disaster risk reduction approach, reporting on the risk and vulnerabilities of people rather than only responding to disasters,” said Nathalie Zaarour, the disaster risk reduction focal point in Lebanon.
“We need to involve media as partners in reducing disaster risk in the country. They can play a key role in raising awareness among population and helping save lives.”
In this regard, journalists also agreed on covering the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, held every year on October 13th, in an effort to educate and build a culture of prevention in the country.
Lebanon is subjected to a range of natural hazards with earthquakes being one of the most important threats. As the coordinator of the risk assessment profile of Lebanon Fadi Hamdan explained, seismic fault lines pass through the country and several major urban areas and cities. In addition to this ever-present threat, floods, forest fires, storms, drought and landslides are also recurrent hazards in the country.
Reducing disaster risk has been an ongoing process in Lebanon in recent years. For example, since 2000, safety building measures have been taken into consideration when building new schools. Also, in 2005, the Lebanese government passed a Decree of Public Safety for earthquakes, fires, and elevators, which has yet to be applied. A national strategy for raising awareness regarding disaster risk reduction is currently in the process of being implemented.
The Lebanese government also recently encouraged all Lebanese municipalities to join the UNISDR-coordinated World Disaster Reduction Campaign “Making Cities Resilient – My City’s Getting Ready!”. 57 municipalities in the country so far have signed up to the campaign, with more to join before the end of the year.