Lebanon puts army and civil service on front line of risk reduction

 
BEIRUT/GENEVA, 21 October 2011 – UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlstrom, today welcomed the news that both the Lebanese Army and the National Institute of Administration, the country’s civil service, are to make disaster risk reduction a core element of staff training.

She said: “This is a welcome signal from the new government of the importance it attaches to putting in place a culture of risk reduction in a country which has experienced much conflict and is also very vulnerable to earthquakes and other natural hazards. Soldiers and civil servants who understand the principles and practice of disaster risk reduction will be a very valuable resource to the country. UNISDR will be very happy to support these initiatives.”

Following a series of meetings with Prime Minister, Najib Makati, the Army Chief of Staff, General Walid Salman, Lebanese government ministers and senior officials, UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlstrom, said today: “The new government understands the importance of putting in place the mechanisms for dealing with a high degree of risk from earthquakes and other hazards. Lebanon is one of the most heavily urbanized countries in the world and disaster risk reduction should be at the top of the government’s list of priorities.”

She also praised the participation of 57 Lebanese cities and towns in the global UNISDR “Making Cities Resilient” campaign when she opened a two-day workshop in Beirut for 96 local government leaders to discuss disaster risk reduction. The meeting was also attended by representatives from Istanbul, Turkey, and Aqaba, Jordan.

She added: “Lebanon is moving ahead with the establishment of a National Disaster Response Plan which will be finalized next month. Just as importantly, it is about to join an elite of 38 other nations who have shown how seriously they take disaster risk reduction by establishing a national disaster loss data base.

“It is impossible to realize the full value of risk reduction if you cannot measure your losses and calculate how exposed your economic infrastructure is to natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, forest fires and landslides which are major hazards facing the country.

“The United Nations Development Programme is playing a critical role in supporting the work of disaster risk reduction throughout the country working closely with partners in local government, the NGO sector and the Lebanese Red Cross.
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