World Bank, Municipality Agree to Make Beirut Earthquake Resilient (from Kataeb)

Source: Ernest and Young

More then 7 years ago when I was the head of resiliency for the Middl East and North Africa, I led the development of the first Middle East and North Africa Resiliency strategy for the great City of Beirut in Lebanon. So many lessons and so much work to do to ensure that we learn from cities like Beirut, to be better prepared to asborb shocks and bounce back after these happen. The recent devastating urban conflagration that has destroyed Beirut is a sad examples of some of the un-natural disaster that can affect our cities and our economies.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -The World Bank and the municipality of Beirut signed an agreement Thursday to improve Beirut’s infrastructure and make the city more resilient against earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The agreement was signed at the Beirut municipality by the capital’s mayor Bilal Hamad and Andrea Zanon, the World Bank’s regional coordinator for risk management in the Middle East and North Africa.

The agreement involves the World Bank hiring several global and local consultants to evaluate Beirut’s infrastructure and ability to handle natural disasters — with a focus on earthquakes. The consultants will then draft an action plan to boost Beirut’s capabilities.

“The master plan aims to address the low impact frequent events, we’re talking about flash floods, storms,” Zanon told The Daily Star. “And the high impact, low frequency events such as seismic and tsunami, which the city is very vulnerable to.”

ProtectionWeb, a website that provides information on disaster risk reduction, estimated that earthquakes will cost Lebanon $119.65 million per year on average in the future.

Hamad decided to undergo the action plan after meeting with disaster risk assessment experts last year. He reached out to the World Bank and asked them to conduct this consultancy as a donation.

“I didn’t want to take money from [the World Bank] or spend money myself because this way I have to go through a tender file and it’s not always that the best people that win a tender,” Hamad told The Daily Star, adding that this is the first direct collaboration between the World Bank and a municipality.

Hamad is a structural, civil and earthquake engineer by trade and improving Beirut’s resilience against natural disasters was one of his main goals upon taking up his post.

Hamad’s main concern is the lack of a centralized unit in Lebanon to deal with natural disasters.

“Whenever there is a disaster, we don’t have an emergency unit,” he explained.

“[We need] a real unit whereby if we have a disaster we know who is in charge of managing the disaster.”

Zanon hopes a successful project in Beirut could act as a model for other countries in the region.

“We hope that the model of Beirut can also be replicated in other cities in the Middle East and North Africa,” he said. “There’s great excitement about this, not just in Washington but in other cities in other countries, in the Gulf and in North Africa.”



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