At the training event, members of the UN Country Team in Algeria show their support for the upcoming World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. (Photo: UN Country Team Algeria)
ALGIERS, 12 February 2015
- As the world gears up for the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, the UN in Algeria is helping the Government to bolster the safety of communities, in a country that has suffered from a string of devastating earthquakes and repeated floods.
A cornerstone of resilient communities is training. As part of efforts to roll out the UN Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience in the Arab States region, UNISDR and UNDP held a session late last month for members of the UN country team in Algeria. The goal was to help build the team’s capacity to expand their support to Algerian partners as part of the forthcoming Strategic Cooperation Framework -- the main planning instrument for the UN contribution to Algeria’s development priorities from 2016-2019. Among the key elements of the training programme was how to contribute to the local roll-out of initiatives to make cities more resilient to disasters, and to build safer schools and hospitals.
Professor Mohamed Belazougui, Director of Algeria’s National Centre for Applied Research in Paraseismic Engineering, was also on hand to explain the country’s hazard and risk profile. He underlined how Algeria had in spurred into action by its El Asnam earthquake tragedy in 1980, which claimed some 3,500 lives, and had continued to review its strategy in the face of floods in 2001 and a further, deadly quake in 2003. Algeria is keen to tap UN expertise and support to increase the resilience of its communities, he told the session.
Consultations are ongoing between Algeria and the UN for a comprehensive disaster risk reduction programme, with the goal of helping turn the National Delegation for Major Risks into a fully-fledged National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Such platforms are a key part of the Hyogo Framework for Action, the world’s most encompassing agreement on disaster risk reduction, which was adopted in 2005 and is due to be updated at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction on 14-18 March in Sendai, Japan. The UN-Algeria programme also foresees activities to decentralise disaster risk reduction to wilaya (governorate) and municipal level by setting up provincial and local disaster risk reduction committees. Local activities also aim to implement the essentials of the UNISDR-brokered Making Cities Resilient campaign, involving action to safeguard lives and livelihoods.
Participants in the training session included representatives of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Volunteers Programme (UNV), the UN Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS), the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and the World Health Organization (WHO). The training session took place against the backdrop of the strong commitment by UN Resident Coordinator Cristina Amaral to boosting disaster risk reduction in Algeria. She has been a major advocate for disaster risk reduction at the national, regional and global levels, including through her contribution to meetings such as the 2nd Arab Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, in September 2014.