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By Nuha Mohamed Eltinay*
In line with the great initiatives administered by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) to increase the level of city resilience worldwide, the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI) organized a Public Forum-Side Event, in the context of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, under the title: MENA Urbanization Knowledge and Disaster Risk Management, on the 16th of March, 2015.
The Arab Urban Development Institute’s event provided a forum for all those engaged in disaster risk reduction in the MENA Region, and showcased challenges and practical applications for disaster risk reduction. The event’s open discussions allowed for exchanging experience and developing joint statements, strategies and action plans, which can be applied as guidelines for decision makers and practitioners in the MENA Region.
The event was also an opportunity to present the Women Entrepreneurship Resilient Cities start-up competition, an initiative conducted in collaboration with the World Bank and which aims at encouraging innovative female-run business solutions to urban risk in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region. With 62% of the MENA population living in cities, the region’s rapid urbanization increases the exposure of people and economic assets to disaster events. On average, women and children are 14 times more likely than men to die during a disaster and yet, women are seldom involved in risk management efforts.
The objective of the competition is to pick the best ventures supporting urban resilience and turn them into opportunities by offering winning teams year-long business support services. WE’Resilient Cites accompanies short-listed candidates on their growth journey from start-up to scale-up providing funding, training and mentorship. The competition contributes to unlock the potential for self-employment opportunities of women in MENA, of whom only 25% participate in the labor market, and 40% are unemployed. Indeed the “WE’Resilient Cities competition provides an invaluable opportunity for female leaders to transform city risk into sustainable, profitable, and long-lasting business ventures” confirms Andrea Zanon, Program Leader, WE’Resilient Cities Competition at the World Bank.
The Arab Urban Development Institute integration of a gender based approach for Disaster Risk Reduction and Social-Ecological Urbanism as part of the City Development Strategy Programme (CDS), will be the first initiative in the MENA Region as a cross cutting perspective considering the women significant role in meeting the rising demands for housing, secure tenure, social and human capital assets for the urban populations at risk prior and post disasters, as a comprehensive integrated national strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Accordingly, AUDI CDS programme will be working within the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, towards better implementation strategies of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, in order to help local governments in the MENA Region prioritize women partnership with key humanitarian actors on their urban development agenda, integrate and embed it within their poverty eradication and sustainable development programmes, persuade filling the gaps in existing land-use frameworks, challenging the women vulnerabilities to disaster insecurity, social exclusion, increased morbidity and mortality among children; and sustain the robust and effective women participation in socio-economic policies, and adding a new dimensions in the contexts of public private partnerships, and civil society cultural vitality.
As such, gender sensitive bottom-up approach will closely work with local level decision makers and empower concerned communities to actively engage grassroots women’s organisations in the decision making process, concerning their immediate neighborhoods located within disaster risk zones. Programmatic Capacity building for women in Community Disaster Risk Reduction sustainable construction, rehabilitation and long-term spatial planning will increase the potential for knowledge exchange among the MENA region local municipalities; enhance regional collaborative alliances and national joint actions towards sustainable disaster risk management disciplines.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030
The post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction was adopted at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, held in March 2015 in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan, which represented a unique opportunity for countries to: