The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is no stranger to severe weather, floods, and earthquakes. The number of natural disasters around the world has almost doubled since the 1980s, in MENA it has almost tripled. Over the past decade, governments in the region have developed a better understanding of the risks posed by natural disasters and the measures needed to prepare for them. In support of their efforts, the World Bank has prepared a report, Natural Disasters in the Middle East and North Africa: A Regional Overview,which aims to highlight the natural hazards facing the region and the progress made in tackling these challenges.
There is an Arabic proverb that says it is better to prevent than to cure.
This is exactly the premise of disaster risk management.
Why is it important for people and governments in the Arab world?
As Franck Bousquet, Sector Manager of Urban, Social and Disaster Risk Management explains: While the number of disasters worldwide has doubled, in the Middle East and North Africa region it has tripled.
In my very first meeting with a government official, I was asked about World Bank support for geothermal power generation in Djibouti and the exploration needed to identify viable sources. I must admit, at the time, I was not very familiar with the technology. Nevertheless, I learned fast about geothermal energy and about the project that was under preparation.
Disaster Risk Management has become a critical component of national policy and planning. In the Middle East and North Africa region, the interplay of natural disasters, together with the impacts of climate change, water scarcity, and urbanization, have emerged as serious challenges for policymaker. While the number of natural disasters around the world has almost doubled since the 1980s, in MENA, the number has almost tripled.
I have been working on biodiversity in protected areas in Jordan for several years, and I am still learning about this country. On my most recent trip, I discovered that Jordan is home to lions and tigers and bears. Imagine! The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is located between three continents, giving Jordan a rich biodiversity.
I started working in Morocco four years ago as a result of the government’s request for
support in implementing their national agricultural strategy, the Plan Maroc Vert. This strategy set the ambitious targets of doubling the agricultural value added and creating 1.5 million jobs in little more than a decade.
A ground-breaking study released last month shows how the Middle East is losing its fresh water reserves. Prepared jointly by NASA and the University of California Irvine, and published by Water Resources Research, the report offers a range of alarming statistics on both the amount and rate of the region’s water loss.
When I was a graduate student, I often drove through the Altamont Pass wind farm. I thought of them as the California’s equivalent of Dutch windmills, more beauty than function. Little did I know that it was one of the first, and largest, wind farms in the United States and that I would someday learn more about their value and potential.
During our research for a report on climate change in the Arab world which will be released in Doha next week, I travelled the region extensively. I met a number of people struggling bravely against higher temperatures and sporadic rainfall, but it is really the children who tell the most eloquent stories about the negative impacts of climate, now and in the future.