top five hazards Saudi Arabia

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top five hazards Saudi Arabia

top five hazards Saudi Arabia


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top five hazards affecting your the country of Saudi Arabia

1. Do some research and locate the top five hazards affecting your the country of Saudi Arabia (article attached below). Label these hazards as natural, human-caused, or technological. ( Describe all the hazards in Saudi that you will mention, causes, effects, statistics, etc)

2. Some emergency managers believe it is important to identify all possible hazards relative to their communities as a step to successfully manage or mitigate these hazards. What are your thoughts on this strategy? Is it reasonable? Effective? Efficient? (also article attached below to answer this question)

Important notes:

At least three paragraphs

– Use proper APA format for citation and references

Only use scholar references if you want to add other references

– Comprehinsively answer the questions

top five hazards affecting your the country of Saudi Arabia

top five hazards affecting your the country of Saudi Arabia

Emergency Managemtop five hazards affecting your the country of Saudi Arabia ent in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present and Future Yassar A. Alamri1 “He who is secure in his house, healthy in his body and has his food for the day, has owned the world” – Prophet Mohammed Introduction The management of potentially hazardous situations such as religious mass gatherings has been the duty of the people of Makkah (now part of Saudi Arabia) for many centuries. Inhabitants of Makkah used to evacuate their houses to accommodate the incoming pilgrims, and servants of the Holy Mosque used to distribute cold water to quench pilgrims’ thirst. This concept of serving mass gatherings formed the nucleus of the first emergency management plans in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Today, Saudi Arabia covers most of the Arabian Peninsula and has faced many other risks in addition to those arising from religious mass gatherings. In order to improve on the existing emergency management policies and plans, it is of crucial importance to examine the current emergency management system. It is also pivotal to reflect back on previous disasters and learn lessons from them to avoid committing the same mistakes again. It is saddening to discover that most emergency policies implemented are either out-of-date, not fully documented or not easily obtainable. This chapter will look at current hazards and vulnerabilities in Saudi Arabia. It will also provide a list of major disasters in Saudi history, and describe the current emergency management policies in the country. Finally, lessons learned from these disasters and areas of improvement will be critically discussed. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located in western Asia. It takes up most of the Arabian Peninsula, with a surface area of 2,149,690 km2 and a population of 27.137 million (Central Department of Statistics and Information, 2010, United Nations: Statistics Division, 2008). Of this population, 30% are 14 years or younger and only 4.75% are 60 years or older. International migrant stock, such as guest workers, represent 27.8% of the total population (Ministry of Economy and Planning, 2010-2014). Saudi Arabia’s population living in rural areas makes up 18.6% of the total population. The geography is varied, from coastal regions in the eastern and western parts, to mountainous regions in the south-west, and finally to the Rub’ al Khali desert running along the country’s southern boarders where almost no life exists. The country is divided into 13 provinces which are further divided into governorates; each of these has a capital that is headed by a governor. Figure 1 shows a simplified map of Saudi Arabia and its major cities. 1 Medical student and PhD candidate (MBChB/PhD) at Christchurch School of Medicine, University of Otago and Van der Veer Research Institute, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. E-mail: [email protected] 1 Figure 1. Map of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (source: United States Central Intelligence Agency) Hazards in Saudi Arabia A hazard can be thought of as a potential risk endangering human life or health, property or the environment. However, if this risk does lead to an incident, it is referred to as an emergency situation or, if the damage is overwhelming, a disaster. Such events are often the result of human factors, environmental hazards or natural causes. Although considerable overlap occurs between these factors, there is usually one factor that contributes significantly more than the others. This section will review hazards in Saudi Arabia classified according to the main contributory factor. 1. Human-related risks: • Terrorist attacks: Up until recent years, terrorist attacks have very rarely, if at all, been heard of in Saudi Arabia. Citizens and foreigners have co-habitated for decades, even before the foundation of the current Saudi Arabia. This was especially the case in areas known for trade, such as Jiddah on the Red Sea, where merchants from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Oman, and India regularly mingled and traded with local merchants. With the rapid modernization that occurred to the country, more and more citizenforeigner interactions were formed. This increased presence and power of foreigners in the Kingdom is viewed by some extremists as posing a “threat.” Lacking adequate knowledge of Islamic laws, they took out-of-context quotes from Holy Scriptures to 2 justify taking their souls, along with many others’ of their fellow citizens and foreigners. This has resulted in the unfortunate occurrence of several terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia in the past few years (discussed later on in the chapter). Added to the human and structural losses, these bombings resulted in transient internal instability in the country, albeit brief, as well as interrupting public and international relations leading to an unprecedented shift in regional and international political dynamics. • Motor Vehicle Crashes (MVCs): MVCs are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Saudi Arabia. There have been almost 500,000 MVCs in 2008 alone, resulting in over 6,000 deaths (Ministry of Interior, 2008). This means that there are 1,350 MVCs, 101 people injured and 18 people killed everyday! This, in part, has been attributed to the social and economic development in the country, leading to a considerable increase in the numbers of drivers and vehicles. In turn, this has overwhelmed traffic services in urban and rural areas. Supporting this theory is the notable increase in MVCs and deaths seen during the special seasons on the Islamic calendar (discussed next). For example, the province of Makkah has witnessed more MVC-related deaths (26.02%) in 2008 than the rest of the 13 provinces of Saudi Arabia. The vast majority of MVCs result from driver-related offences, as opposed to road- or vehicle-related causes (Ministry of Interior, 2008). Driver-related offences can be divided into the following categories: road-code offences, vehicle misuse, driving misjudgments and other offences. Of these categories, road-code offences have been the most common, with overspeeding and running red lights having accounted for more than 50% of all MVAs in 2008. Of note, more than one-third of all MVA-related deaths are seen in the 18-29 years age group (which is most expected to undertake such driving stunts). Targeting such risk factors, therefore, has the potential of dramatically improving morbidity and mortality resulting from MVCs in Saudi Arabia. MVCs are on the rise internationally, but they are particularly problematic in Saudi Arabia. In a review of MVCs from all Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia had the highest incidence of accidents including pedestrians (Al-Tukhi, 1990). Not only has this been claiming the lives of many people in Saudi Arabia, but it has also been exhausting national resources that could be better utilized. • Ramadan and Hajj seasons: Ramadan and Hajj are two special seasons on the Islamic calendar, for which a massive influx of people from all over the world come to Saudi Arabia. Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, while Hajj occurs on the 12th month. Given that the Islamic calendar employs a lunar cycle, these events do not equate to a particular time on the Gregorian solar calendar (which is usually 11-12 days longer). This also means that these events cycle between seasons (i.e. summer, fall, winter and spring) every few years. During the fasting month of Ramadan, it is an Islamic belief that good deeds are exponentially greater. As a result, many Muslims from around the world make an effort to visit the Holy Mosques in Makkah and Medina to perform prayers and other rituals. This leads to a cumulative number of visitors of about 2 million people over a period of only 30 days. With this number of visitors, simple practicalities, such as when to perform physical prayers, can result in profound adverse effects that can exhaust available resources. For example, an observational study from Al-Noor Specialist Hospital in 3 Makkah has shown that most emergency department admissions were during the evening shift (4pm-12am). This was attributed to the fact that most patients were fasting and had been exposed to the high temperatures of summer while performing prayers during the day (Dhaffar et al., 2005). Hajj refers to the major pilgrimage to the Holy Mosque in Makkah, carried out over 5 days on the 12th month of the Islamic calendar. It is obligatory for each adult Muslim, physically and financially capable, to perform Hajj at least once in their lifetime. During Hajj season, there is an almost sudden increase in Makkah’s population from 200,000 permanent inhabitants to well over 3 million people. This increase puts major stress on Makkah’s modest supplies of food and water as well as its health services. In addition, the limited space in Makkah has raised concerns about pilgrim overcrowding and trampling, increased MVCs, spread of infectious diseases and other public health implications. 2. Technological hazards: Technological hazards refer to the partial malfunction or total breakdown of equipment leading to the early cessation of an operation short of its intended goal. Technological hazard is increasingly becoming a recognized separate category of hazards. Depending upon the type of operation ceased, technological hazards can result in power outages, environmental damage or health risks for the human workforce. Since Saudi Arabia is one of the leading oil-producing countries, this paragraph will focus on the risks posed by technological hazards in the oil industry. Technological hazards in the oil industry can occur at any stage of oil processing: from extraction to refinement to exportation. Some of the incidents that can occur include damage to oil wells, leaking pipelines, accidental ballast water discharge from loading terminals and accidental oil spillages. All Saudi factories involved in oil-related operations are very active in the protection and maintenance of the equipment in accordance with SASO (Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization) standards. Unfortunately, however, incidents still occur in spite of all precautionary measures, and there have been about 36 recorded oil spills in the Arabian Gulf alone as of 2005 (Al-Suwian, 2001). Several field studies from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals have not shown any significant pollution of the Arabian Gulf by heavy metals or hydrocarbons (Al-Suwian, 2001). However, the Arabian Gulf is especially likely to become more polluted since it is enclosed and receives only a slow rate of water exchange with the open sea. It also has a high salinity and a rapid rate of water evaporation leading to an even higher salinity. All of this poses a great threat to living marine species, the ecological structure of the Gulf, as well as people working in the area. 3. Natural disasters: Saudi Arabia has recently become known for media-attracting incidents such as terrorist attacks and major MVCs. However, less attention has been given to natural disasters, even though their incidence has been on the rise. Floods are the most frequently encountered natural disaster in Saudi Arabia. They have been the cause of 7 of the 10 most damaging natural disasters in the history of the country between 1900 and 2010 (refer to Table 1). The reason behind floods being a major threat in Saudi Arabia is multi-faceted. Rains have been relatively scarce in the area, and this has lead to the under-development 4 of a proper drainage system in the country. Compounding this problem is the geography of some of the most populated cities in Saudi Arabia. Cities, such as Jiddah and Makkah, are on low ground and are surrounded by mountains. When rains fall on these mountains, water runs in valleys towards these cities. With poor drainage systems, this continuous flow of water could easily lead to a flash flood. Disaster Date No. Killed Flood 24/11/2009 163 Epidemic 11/09/2000 76 03/2000 Epidemic 57 Epidemic 9/02/2001 35 Flood 28/04/2005 34 Flood 24/12/1985 32 Flood 22/01/2005 29 Flood 4/04/1964 20 Flood 8/04/2002 19 12 Flood 11/11/2003 Table 1. Top 10 natural disasters in Saudi Arabia for the period 1964 to 2010, sorted by the number of people killed (source: International Disaster Database) Vulnerability in Saudi Arabia Vulnerability in any country can be gauged by how it prepares for and reacts to emergency situations and hazards. This section will examine vulnerabilities in Saudi Arabia in terms of emergency preparedness and reaction to emergencies once they occur. Emergency preparedness vulnerabilities Saudi Arabia has certain vulnerabilities that can hinder the country’s ability to be better prepared for hazards discussed previously. One of these is the short time available to prepare for high risk seasons, namely, Hajj and Ramadan season. This line-up of mass gathering seasons leaves no time for proper emergency preparedness projects. Usually, preparations of these seasons start at least a month before Ramadan. As people start to leave after the Ramadan season, more and more people arrive in Makkah in preparation for Hajj. This takes up the period leading to the actual Hajj season. After Hajj, at least two to four weeks are spent on cleaning the Holy Mosque and fixing any damage caused by the season itself rather than initiating new emergency preparedness projects. The scale and timing of these mass gathering seasons leave no choice for emergency planners but to operate on full capacity, and surge capacity of human and physical resources is almost null. Any extra resources are only used for increasing the operating capacity to handle more visitors rather than to increase the surge capacity. 5 Furthermore, with all the crowding during these mass gathering seasons, emergency preparedness activities take longer to establish and are more expensive to run because of the logistics and practicalities of establishing a preparedness program in a very crowded city (i.e. Makkah). Basically, the nature and timing of high risk seasons in Makkah make the population of Makkah and its visitors more vulnerable to disasters and its impact. Another, although less significant, factor to exacerbate the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia to the impact of potential disasters is the recent trend of reluctance from international experts, including emergency planners, to work in the country especially after the recent terrorist attacks (Maben et al., 2010). This has affected the progress of a wide range of collaborative developmental projects including emergency preparedness projects, for which more expertise and skill than available in the country is required. Emergency preparedness is based on experience-sharing, and international expertise is central to any readiness activities and without such expertise the vulnerability to the effect of disasters is multiplied. Vulnerabilities in reaction to emergencies A country’s reaction to emergencies once they strike determines the extent of the damage. Multiple factors could improve or hinder the reaction to emergencies. Saudi Arabic has several factors that could hinder recovery efforts and increase the vulnerability to disasters impact. These are usually social and demographic factors, such as the high rate of illiteracy and language barriers among vulnerable populations. Illiteracy and lack of proper education can negatively affect people’s attitudes towards emergency preparedness. In 2007, illiteracy rates were 23.6% in females and 8.6% of males over 15 years (Ministry of Economy and Planning, 2010-2014). Not being able to read safety brochures or use the internet and other media resources for public announcements can have adverse consequences and place the population on higher risk of being a victim of disasters. For example, during the rainfall that resulted in the flood in Jiddah in 2009 (discussed in the next section), many people ignored warnings about using motor vehicles for unnecessary trips simply because illiteracy means less attention to such messages. Some people under-estimated the risk and decided to take a trip in their cars to “enjoy” the rain, and these were the cars that were swept away by the flood and clogged main streets. Moreover, some people have the attitude that “what God wills to happen, will happen”; however, this contradicts Islamic beliefs. Islamic teachings state that every person has to do their best in taking precautions, as well as believing in God and relying on Him. In short, lower education level and illiteracy leads to less effective risk-communication and under-appreciation of the power of disasters. Many communities in Saudi Arabia have a higher vulnerability to the impact of disaster because people do not appreciate risks and ignore official messages. Another problem is the language barrier among immigrant workers in Saudi Arabia. Immigrant workers made up 53.1% of the workforce in Saudi Arabia in 2008 (Ministry of Economy and Planning, 2010-2014). In spite of this large number, most precautionary warnings issued by officials during disasters are still publicized in Arabic! There has been a call for occupational emergency personnel who can speak languages most commonly used by foreign workers (e.g. Urdu and Filipino); attempts to date have been unsuccessful. The media is still largely in Arabic and less of other languages. This 6 miscommunication leads to increased vulnerability of minority groups in Saudi Arabia who are labor workers living in high risk areas. In summary, the vulnerability to disasters and their impact is compounded in Saudi Arabia by multiple factors, such as the nature of the mass gatherings, the high illiteracy rate and miscommunication of risk to minority groups. These factors all tend to slow down preparedness activities and make recovery after disasters even slower. History of disasters in Saudi Arabia Almost all major disasters in Saudi Arabia can be attributed to one or more of the hazards and vulnerabilities mentioned in the previous sections. Unfortunately, there is no official publicly-available database that keeps a record of disasters in the country. Most official information available comes from newspapers local to the region where the disaster occurred. The International Disaster Database (IDD) of the WHO provides the best record of disasters in Saudi Arabia (International Disaster Database, 2010). For this section, data recorded in the IDD have been compared to information published in the relevant medical literature as well as in local newspapers around the time of any given disaster to check for accuracy (2000, Aguilera et al., 2002, Almulla, 2008, Lerner et al., 2007, Thompson et al., 2004). Table 2 shows a chronological list of major disasters in the past 50 years in Saudi Arabia. The following is a description of the most significant disasters in the history of Saudi Arabia: 1964 rains: this is the earliest recorded account of a natural disaster in Saudi Arabia. Heavy rains poured continuously on parts of the country leading to a flood that killed 20 people and left about 1,000 people either injured or homeless. No further details are recorded. Fire incident in Hajj season 1975: during Hajj season in 1975, a fire broke out in one of the pilgrim’s tents near Makkah and quickly spread to other tents. The fire was caused by an explosion of a gas cylinder, and led to the death of 200 pilgrims. Seizure of the Holy Mosque in Makkah: on 20 November 1979 the Holy Mosque in Makkah was occupied by a group of armed Muslim extremists. The attackers had planned to seize the Mosque by filling coffins with weapons and smuggled them into the Mosque. On the morning of the day of seizure, they chained the gates of the Mosque, killed the two guards on-duty at the time, and held present worshippers hostages. They called on the people to revoke the current Saudi Monarchy and ob …top five hazards affecting your the country of Saudi Arabia

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