Gender-based disaster risk reduction in the MENA region
By Nuha Eltinay

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


In line with the great UNISDR initiatives to increase the level of city resilience worldwide, the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI) wants to put the focus on theurban administration of land-use and spatial planning policies at the level of local municipalities, as a gender-based approach for disaster risk reduction. Also know as social-ecological urbanism, this is important in the MENA region.

 A cross-cutting  gender perspective should always consider the significant role of women when it comes to meeting rising demands for housing, secure tenure, social and human capital assets for the urban populations at risk prior to and post-disasters. It is part of comprehensive, integrated national strategy for DRR.

AUDI, an Arab Towns Organization (ATO) technical affiliate, is an NGO specialized in the areas of municipal affairs training, research, consultancy, and documentation. AUDI commenced its activities effectively in 1980, providing services to 500 cities and municipalities representing 22 Arab countries. Our city development strategy program aims at improving the local municipalities’ capacity building and risk management policy frameworks, where gender dimensions of natural disasters remain a priority for DRR policies on outreach, monitoring and response.

Working within the Hyogo Framework for Action 2000-2015, women’s partnership with key humanitarian actors will help local governments in the MENA region prioritize gender equitable disaster risk management in their urban development agenda, as well as to integrate and embed it within their poverty eradication and sustainable development programmes. That will help fill the gaps in existing land-use frameworks, confronting women’s vulnerabilities to disaster insecurity and social exclusion, as well as increased morbidity and mortality among children. It will also sustain the robust and effective participation of women in socio-economic policies, and add a new dimension in the contexts of public-private partnerships, and civil society cultural vitality.

A gender-sensitive, bottom-up approach involves working closely with local level decision-makers and empowering concerned communities to actively engage grassroots women’s organisations in decision-making process related to their immediate neighborhoods located within disaster risk zones. Programmatic capacity-building for women in community DRR, sustainable construction, rehabilitation and long-term spatial planning will increase the potential for knowledge exchange among MENA region municipalities. It will also enhance regional collaborative alliances and national joint actions towards sustainable disaster risk management.

Nuha Eltinay is Director of Urban Planning and Sustainable Development at the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI) in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.