Disaster Risk Reduction
Saudi Arabia is a nation prone to numerous natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, volcanoes and water scarcity. In the last 30 years, there have been 14 natural disasters, affecting over 30,000 citizens and costing the economy over $450 million. Floods have been a prevalent issue affecting mainly urban areas, this is an increasing risk as a result of increasing sea levels. The flooding of Jeddah in 2009 has been a crucial wake-up call to the government in establishing more response programs and development of better infrastructure.
The Saudi Arabian government has taken many steps to advance (DRM) disaster risk management since the flooding of Jeddah. The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment was designated to focus on disaster risk reduction efforts, while the Civil Defense Ministry of Interior is responsible for emergency planning and response. To further advance DRM agenda the government has: continually carried out risk assessments and updates to preparedness strategies, strengthening land-use planning, and enforcing certain building codes, and carrying out warning system tests to ensure effective use.
The Saudi Arabian government has received a lot of help to carry out these programs from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). In many Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, the GFDRR has set up the development of a Regional Overview of Natural Disasters, knowledge exchange conferences, and post-disaster training. After the flooding of Jeddah, the GFDRR supported the development of a damage and loss assessment, as per a request from the government to strengthen disaster risk information. In an ongoing agreement since 2011, the GFDRR supported a preliminary multi-hazard risk profile. This will serve as critical input to a World Bank project of a similar cause. The GFDRR has provided over 2 million US dollars worth of grants for the Saudi Arabian Government in 2017 for disaster risk reduction. Organizations like the GFDRR can help many countries around the world, and get them back up on their feet.
Saudi Arabia has also been a huge contributor to disaster help in other nations. Donations from the nation have helped many of its neighbors. In 2018 alone, the government donated over $400 million to natural disaster prevention and relief around the world, falling short of certain western countries’ donations. Saudi Arabia believes that working together can help us drastically reduce the impact of disasters and allow for better response.
- Hrudy Peela