Djibouti joins growing ranks of Making Cities Resilient Campaign

From left: Mayor of Balbala Ali Dato, who received the Making Cities Resilient campaign certificate on behalf of the Mayor of Djibouti Abdourahman Mohamed Guelleh, HFA National Focal Point Ahmed Mohamed Madar, and Head of UNISDR's Regional Office in the Arab States Amjad Abbashar.
 
CAIRO, 21 November 2012 - Djibouti's capital has joined 1,284 cities around the world who have signed up to UNISDR's World Disaster Reduction Campaign -- Making Cities Resilient-My City is getting ready.

Ville de Djibouti, home to some 600,000 people and located on the coast on the Gulf of Tadjoura is the first city in the country to commit to the Ten Essentials of the Campaign, a ten-point checklist that is the root of the city's commitment to reduce disaster risks.

The city joined the Campaign at a signing ceremony during a UNDP convened workshop on best practices on urban risk management for the Arab region in Cairo from 4-6 November. At this gathering, attended by representatives of the League of Arab States (LAS), Swiss Development Corporation, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, participants acknowledged Djibouti's accomplishments, especially the three-year action plan on disaster risk management that will include urban risk management at local levels.

"This campaign has been an excellent opportunity to address gaps in the disaster risk reduction process", said Luis Carvalho, representative of Amadora municipality, in Portugal, which joined the Campaign in November 2010. "Our strategy is quite simply: coordination, motivation and participation. Make a local appeal in your community and explain to them all the opportunities for disaster risk reduction. The biggest one is to save lives".

The Djibouti Disaster Risk Management Program is a collaboration between the World Bank and five leading Djibouti DRM agencies: the Djibouti Center for Study and Research; the Executive Secretariat for DRM; the Ministry of the Habitat, Urbanism, Environment, and Land Management; the Meteorology Division of the Airport; and the University of Djibouti.

The five priorities of the world's first disaster risk plan -- the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005 -- 2015): Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters -- guide the Djibouti Disaster Risk Management Programme. They are: Make Disaster Risk Reduction a Priority; Know the Risks and Take Action; Build Understanding and Awareness; Reduce Risk and; Be Prepared and Ready to Act.

According to a Climate Risk and Adaptation Country Profile issued in April 2011 by the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), "Djibouti is vulnerable to extreme events such as droughts, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, and fires. Moreover, Djibouti is at risk of sea level rise. These natural hazards are increasing in frequency, affecting population food security, drinking water supply and irrigation, public health systems, environmental management, and lifestyle."

UNISDR's PreventionWeb states that from 1980-2010, Djibouti experienced 19 natural hazards which affected almost 1.5 million people and caused economic damages to the tune of US$3.2 million. Eighty-five percent of the country's population lives in urban coastal areas with roughly 65 percent concentrated in the capital.

Participants at the workshop represented a region with some 360 million people, which is also one of the more urbanized regions of the world, with 56 per cent of its population (over 200 million) living in cities. The Arab population has more than quadrupled between 1970 and 2010. Many of the Arab region's major cities, economic centres and transportation hubs are in low-lying coastal areas and, therefore, at risk in case of a sea level rise.

To address the risks resulting from rapid urbanization, local government representatives from Aqaba (Jordan), Tunis (Tunisia), Istanbul (Turkey), Amadora (Portugal) and Katmandu (Nepal) shared best practices and approaches on urban risk management with more than 30 participants from Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

"It is extremely important that governments, at national and local levels, now begin addressing the exposure and vulnerability of urban populations in the Arab region. Initiatives like this workshop that promote the sharing of best practices in disaster risk reduction are key to enhance awareness and the technical capacities of regional urban authorities", said Amjad Abbashar, Head of the UNISDR Regional Office for Arab States.

Sharing experiences from outside the Arab region, the municipality of Amadora in Portugal, showed how financial resources -- although very important- should not be a restriction to placing disaster risk reduction and resilience on the municipality agenda.

The workshop introduced the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, a UNISDR global initiative launched in 2010 that aims to strengthen and support local governments to achieve resilient and sustainable urban communities. Currently, the Arab participation in the campaign has reached 275 cities and local governments, which makes up to 20% of the global participation: an overall total of 1,285 cities including Ville de Djibouti.
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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