Syria uses digital power to upgrade disaster preparedness

Published January 7th, 2004 - 02:00 GMT

Syria has set up an online disaster management database in all 14 governorates and trained 350 government staff on how to respond to natural and man-made disasters, said the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  


The project, implemented by the Ministry of Local Administration in partnership with UNDP, comes after the the Zeyzoun dam in the north collapsed in 2002, affecting more than 40,000 people. Although the government responded quickly, with support from UN agencies, the calamity highlighted the need to upgrade disaster management.  


The $307,500 two-year initiative began last April, and the partners are sharing the costs. The database uses geographic information systems (GIS) technology that combines data of many kinds — including such features as roads and other transport links, buildings and local institutions and population — to give a comprehensive overview vital to coordinating disaster relief and recovery.  


The system has a central computer server at the ministry and a web site to enable decision makers and local officials to add or modify data and gain easy access to information. It will include radio communications to coordinate emergency response activities.  


The project is preparing a manual on disaster management planning. It will also set up a pilot database in one governorate, based on a socio-economic survey, to help local authorities manage post-disaster rehabilitation.  

Hilal Al-Atrash, Minister of Local Administration, said the project can increase staff capacity in disaster management in all governorates through practical training and use of information systems. Several government authorities have also requested training, he noted.  


UNDP Resident Representative Taoufik Ben Amara said that the project is important because natural or man-made calamities could destroy the fruits of development, and improving disaster management could help minimize such negative impact. — (  


© 2004 Mena Report (

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