NNA - The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in cooperation with the National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR), held at the Grand Serail on Wednesday a workshop to unveil the findings of the Flood Assessment Report for Lebanon.
The workshop was inaugurated by the Secretary General of the National Council for Scientific Research, Mouin Hamza, and Acting UNDP Country Director, Shombi Sharp, in the presence municipality heads, stakeholders, decision-makers, academics and specialists.
In his delivered word, Sharp said that economic losses incurred by disasters this century have accounted to a range of $2.5 trillion, adding that among natural disasters, floods affect the largest number of people worldwide and have the greatest potential to cause damage.
"In Lebanon and according to the '2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction', economic losses from disasters that have occurred between 1980 and 2010 in Lebanon, amount to USD 5,323,000 per annum. Floods are among the top 10 natural disasters that effect Lebanon be it on the people, their assets and economy," said Sharp.
Incorporating disaster risk reduction (DRR) to natural hazards including floods has been one of the priorities for Lebanon's national agenda.
"Since 2012, and within the framework of the project 'Strengthening Disaster Risk Management Capacities in Lebanon', the UNDP has supported the National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR) to conduct the 'Flood Hazard Mapping Assessment for Lebanon' with the objective of producing flood intensity and hazard maps," Sharp added, explaining further that these maps, and relevant data and recommendations, are of significant importance for the government of Lebanon, concerned agencies, local level authorities, community representatives, academics and concerned stakeholders -- as they are essential for any future action and plan for disaster risk reduction.
"I am honored to be here today to launch the findings of this pioneer report. Moreover, I am very much pleased that the findings of this report will be made available to decision-makers, planners and relevant community stakeholders as they will support improving the government's capacities in disaster preparedness," concluded Sharp, hoping that the recommendations, data and discussions be transformed to strategies that improve social, physical and institutional resilience to flooding.
"We further hope that decision makers integrate the findings of the report to any future planning and development policies and strategies at the local, sectoral and national levels."
In turn, the General Secretary of the National Council for Scientific Research warned that floods were among the most dangerous natural disasters that annually strike different corners of the world, including Lebanon.
"The drought that hit Lebanon this year does not mean that we should give up on studies that aim to protect the country from the negative effects of floods," he said.
Hamza announced that the study had been able to determine many of the weak spots and areas that may be affected by floods, calling on civil and local bodies to adopt appropriate measures and to fortify sensitive areas depending on the research findings.
"Facts have revealed an increase in the frequency of floods in recent decades. The largest flood that had stricken Lebanon in recent history is that of Abu Ali River back in 1955, killing more than 400 people and displacing about 2,000 families and destroying about 800 establishments and residential units. This is not to mention the massive floods of 2003 and those of January 2014," Hamza said, anticipating an increasing number of future floods to be caused by climate change and global warming.
"The most important factor of the study is that it gathers data about the history of floods that had hit the country within the last century for the researchers to use when gauging floodplains and the places that are mostly vulnerable to flooding."
Hamza went on to stress that "the announcement of this study is the first step which we hope would be applied in all fields." He saw that the cycle of heavy rain would return to Lebanon, highlighting the importance of taking the necessary precautions to take advantage of these resources in line with measures to ensure protection from the impact of floods in more than one area in Lebanon.
In conclusion, Hamza thanked UNDP representative Shombi Sharp and the risk management team at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers headed by Nathalie Zaarour, as well as all the workshop participants, for their contribution and efforts towards the completion of this report with a high professional spirit.