From left: Mr. Luca Renda, UNDP Country Director in Lebanon, Mr. Raymond Medlej, advisor to the Minister of Interior and Municipal Affairs, and Mr. Samir Dahir, advisor to the Prime Minister and DRR Focal Point in Lebanon.
By Berta Acero
CAIRO, 13 September 2012
- A total of 249 municipalities from Lebanon have now officially joined the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, a global initiative led by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk reduction (UNISDR) to protect cities and vital infrastructure.
The campaign, launched in 2010, aims to ensure that city leaders and local governments commit to a checklist of Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient against natural disasters. At present, there are more than 1,080 cities in over 80 countries that have already joined the campaign.
Lebanon is one of the most heavily urbanized countries in the world and one of the most earthquake-prone. The country established a Disaster Risk Management Unit in May 2009 under the office of the Prime Minister with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). UN Resident Coordinator, Robert Watkins, has been a strong proponent of the scaling up which is now taking place.
The official announcement came during a UNISDR Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on local government's role in disaster risk reduction (DRR). The workshop was attended by 70 participants representing several municipalities, and Unions of Municipalities as well as the Ministry of Interior and Municipal Affairs in Lebanon.
The workshop - held in Beirut from 4-6 September in coordination with the Prime Minister's Office and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) - aimed to train municipalities and boost local capacities to better assess and manage their risks and ensure integration of disaster risk reduction into city planning and local development.
"Local governments are at the front line of disasters and need to act not only when events occur but beforehand to mitigate and prevent losses in lives and livelihoods. Local governments in Lebanon are very committed to ensure safety and resilience of their communities and ready to work on disaster risk reduction once resources and capacities are mobilized", the regional UNISDR programme officer, Ms. Luna Abu Swaireh said.
The Lebanese government, together with the United Nations, has made a concerted effort in recent years to support national coordination, improve legislation and raise national awareness on disaster risk reduction throughout the country.
In 2010, the Project "Strengthening Disaster Risk Management Capacities in Lebanon" was launched by UNDP with the Prime Minister's Office to help the Lebanese government develop its disaster management strategy. Under this project, and with guidance and support from UNISDR's Regional Office for Arab states, all key regional national stakeholders were trained on disaster risk reduction.
Last year, Lebanon produced its first national progress report on achievements in the priority areas of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disaster, the international framework for disaster risk reduction. Media, NGOs, schools and scientific institutes have all been systematically engaged in promoting disaster risk reduction in the country. Furthermore, efforts were strengthened to initiate a national risk assessment and to develop a national response plan in case a disaster should occur.