The International Workshop on Natural Hazards and Early Warning Systems organized by the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at Sultan Qaboos University, in association with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), commenced at SQU on Tuesday, 26 February 2019. The opening ceremony was held under the patronage of H.E. Mohammad Al Yaqoubi, Secretary General of the Oman National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, the Ministry of Education. Around 47 participants from ISESCO member countries, (11 participants from the region and 36 from Sultanate Oman) are attending the three-day workshop.
This training workshop is an opportunity to increase awareness on natural hazards and disaster risk reduction (DRR) to key stakeholders with knowledge on disaster management. In addition, it will be an opportunity to exchange experiences and lessons and will aims to bring together disaster risk reduction experts from ISESCO Member States. During this training workshop, the countries representative’s participants will present their countries’ respective experiences, especially in terms of efforts made in DRR and disaster risk management, transfer of knowledge and the use of new technologies for DRR.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al Mahrooqi, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies & Research, said that the impact of cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis is not limited to direct losses, such as the loss of life, loss of structures, and business interruptions. “These hazards also cause indirect losses by producing supply shortages and demand reductions in various economic sectors. Therefore, natural hazard monitoring and early warning systems are essential parts of disaster risk reduction and preparation. For many years, the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman have realized the importance of monitoring natural hazards, such as earthquakes and related hazards, in Oman and its vicinity in order to set out rules, regulations and emergency plans in the case of major disasters occurring in the future”.
In order to ensure the safety of citizens and structures, Dr. Rahma said, the government has mandated SQU to provide planners with earthquake resistant design provisions in order to design safe and robust structures. “Therefore, the Omani Earthquake Monitoring Center (EMC) was established in 2001 after several years of planning. The work to establish a multi-hazard early warning system to ensure the safety and well-being of Omani society started more than a decade ago. This effort has resulted in the state-of-the-art Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems inaugurated in March 2015, which is the first of its kind in the region. Hence, the Sultanate has taken active steps to monitor natural hazards and to create a system for early warning”, she said. The Deputy Vice Chancellor added that the workshop would showcase some of the efforts done in Oman and internationally to guard against natural hazards and to protect lives and wealth in countries that might face the danger of these natural events.
In his address, Dr. Foued El Ayni, ISESCO representative said that disasters are increasing worldwide and have become more frequent and violent. “Despite the number of efforts to better prepare and mitigate the effects of these disasters, many additional efforts remain necessary, Aware about the importance of this concern in our Islamic world, ISESCO is continuing its efforts in this field for the implementation of its “Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in the Islamic World” adopted in Tunisia, since 2010”.
ISESCO strategy and action plan in this field are aligned with the Seven Global Targets of the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted in 2015, Japan. In 2017, within the framework of 7 th Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers, ISESCO has presented a first phase of a pilot Program related to the implementation of the Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and its management in the Islamic world for the two years (2018-2019). In 2019, ISESCO is planning three relevant activities in Pakistan, Ivory Coast and Sultanate Oman on Early Warning systems, the ICT role for disaster prediction and the Use of satellite images for natural hazards assessment and analysis. Dr. Foued El Ayni added that ISESCO is intending to support three national strategies on disaster prevention, and mitigation in three different regions (African, Asian, and Arab). This activity is within this pilot program.