Published on Sustainable Cities

Disasters due to natural hazards are just the tip of the iceberg in MENA cities


Resilience is increasingly recognized as a key attribute of an effective urban system. Discussions on resilience often center around disasters caused by natural hazards. However, cities are increasingly exposed to multiple shocks and stresses beyond disasters. Cities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are no different and are equally if not more vulnerable to a large set of shocks.
The impact of disasters in MENA has increased with rapid urbanization, climate change, water shortages, conflict, etc. The MENA region is 62 percent urbanized, and the population in cities is expected to double by 2040. Without efforts to boost resilience in MENA, this rapid growth is exposing cities to significant risks to natural hazards and other shock and stress factors.
Moreover, forced displacement in the region, is placing an increased strain on systems and cities already struggling to provide services to host populations. Climate change will further exacerbate this trend, with significant impacts for the region, including more frequent flash floods, longer drought seasons and groundwater depletion.
The World Bank Group, with support from Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, is supporting urban resilience initiatives across the region. This will provide governments with the analytical tools and methods needed, as well as assist them in developing resilience strategies, that help keep cities and their people resilient in the face of a growing spectrum of risks.


Beirut is aspiring to be at the forefront of urban resilience in the region, by conducting in-depth diagnostics of shocks and stresses to the city and how they play out concurrently. In an effort to share its experience and learn from other regional and global initiatives, the Municipality of Beirut, in collaboration with the World Bank Group, is organizing the MENA Regional Urban Resilience Conference, which will be held under the Patronage of His Excellency Mr. Saad Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, from April 2 to 4, 2019 in Beirut. The conference aims at reinforcing a joint understanding of resilience solutions and best practices. The conference  will gather mayors from a large number of MENA cities, as well as senior technical municipal council members and leading global experts.
In this blog series on Adaptation and Resilience as part of our Sustainable Communities blog series, we'll discuss the multiple dimensions of urban resilience and the World Bank’s support as a leader in urban resilience for the region.



Watch this video to learn more about the MENA Regional Urban Resilience Conference.



Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez

Former Regional Director, Africa, Sustainable Development Practice Group

Raja Rehan Arshad

Lead Disaster Risk Management Specialist

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