Egypt is exposed to a variety of natural hazards, including coastal and river floods, earthquakes, rockslides, sand storms, and water scarcity.
Over the last 20 years, natural hazards have killed nearly 1,500 people, with estimated economic damages of $346.7 million. In 2009, a rockslide buried an informal settlement south of Cairo, killing dozens of people and causing severe damage to infrastructure. The following year, heavy flooding displaced thousands of people, with over 4,000 houses damaged or completely destroyed.
Climate change is expected to increase the potential impact of hazards. Most of Egypt’s population and infrastructure are concentrated in the Nile Delta and along the Mediterranean coast, making the country vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise, particularly inundation and saltwater intrusion.
Egypt has taken action to advance disaster risk management (DRM). In 2000, a dedicated crisis and disaster management department at the Information and Decision Support Center of the Egyptian Cabinet of Ministers (IDSC) was established. Among other responsibilities, the department has a mandate to set up national DRM policies and guidelines.
In 2011, the IDSC developed a comprehensive National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction. The strategy includes plans for risk reduction, mitigation, and adaptation across different sectors. In order to strengthen DRM in the country, the department requires additional financial resources and institutional capacity.
To further advance the DRM agenda, the Government of Egypt’s priorities include:
- Strengthening regional coordination and investment in technological innovations to address water scarcity;
- Exploring disaster risk financing and insurance mechanisms;
- Enhancing early warning systems; and,
- Building the capacity and financial resources of the Information and Decision Support Center.
GFDRR has supported disaster risk management activities in Egypt since 2009. Initial engagements took place at the regional level and focused on scaling the Middle East and North Africa’s interest and capacity in DRM. In Egypt, activities included a training in Cairo on damage, loss, and needs assessments as well as preliminary dialogues on strengthening early warning systems and disaster risk financing.
GFDRR also supported the development of a regional study on disaster preparedness for coastal cities in North Africa. The study included the Egyptian city of Alexandria and provided the national and local government with detailed assessments of vulnerability and of resilience and adaptation action plans.
In 2014, GFDRR supported the launch of the innovative Women for Resilience (W4R) competition. Based in Beirut, Cairo, and Djibouti City, the competition has increased resilience by investing in women-led enterprises. In 2015, W4R awarded funding and business training to two such start-ups in Cairo focused on sustainable, affordable, and resilient housing and on transport connectivity. A second phase of the competition is ongoing, with entrants from the cities of Cairo and Alexandria.
GFDRR has supported activities focused on strengthening institutional DRM capacity and on establishing critical foundations for an improved early warning system. Relevant agencies have been trained in post-disaster assessment and recovery, multi-hazard early warning systems, and disaster risk financing insurance. Furthermore, support has been provided to update Egypt’s DRM strategy; an analysis of policy frameworks, legal provisions, and institutional structures has been provided to the Information and Decision Support Center.
GFDRR anticipates new and continued demand from the Government of Egypt in the following areas:
- Strengthening the country’s early warning system;
- Developing disaster risk financing mechanisms; and,
- Integrating resilience into urban infrastructure investments.