The Governor of South Sinai, General Khaled Fouda, talking to journalists at the 2nd Arab Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. (Photo: UNISDR)
By Denis McClean
SHARM EL SHEIKH, 15 September 2014
- The Egyptian governorate of South Sinai yesterday advanced a proposal to raise funds from the private sector and other donors, to combat flash floods such as those which destroyed exclusive parts of the Taba Red Sea resort area on May 8.
General Khaled Fouda, Governor of South Sinai, Egypt, told a press conference at the Second Arab Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, that the cost of the unprecedented flash floods was Egyptian £850 million.
“This year’s flash floods have cost £850 million to repair. That’s the price we are paying for just one day’s flooding. This was a massive disaster as a result of one day of torrential rains. The government is now investing in spillways and building reservoirs to contain the floodwaters,” he said.
Currently, flash flood monitoring is focused on three areas in the Sinai, the Gulf of Aqaba, the Gulf of Suez, and the summit of St. Catherine. The Governor appealed to Japan for further technical assistance to improve the early warning system.
Dr. Khaled Metwally, assistant to the Governor, said the floods caused lots of destruction and two deaths. Strong currents of water flowed through the lobbies and ground floors of several luxury five star hotels in Taba Heights.
The May flood waters did not follow their traditional route to the sea from the Wateer valley but instead breached the road between Nuweiba and Taba. Over 70 families were displaced and economic losses to the local tourist industry were considerable.
Speaking at a side event on urban risks in the Arab region, General Essam Khedr, adviser to the Governor, proposed that a fund be set up to manage disaster risk and that the private sector should contribute a small percentage based on the construction cost of new properties.
Earlier UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlstrom and Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi, co-Chair of the Preparatory Committee for the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction drew attention to the growing scale of economic losses from disasters in recent years.