1st Arab Ministerial Forum for Housing and Urban Development

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20th-22nd December 2015 | Conference 

500 participants from 15 high level Arab ministerial delegations gathering to discuss DRR, Social Justice and Planning/Sustainable Development. Essam Nada, in representation of GNDR's Northern Africa and Western Asia regional hub attended and reported on this event.


  • Participants: 15 high level Arab countries' ministerial delegations, representatives of national and regional organizations, private sector as well as civil society from the region.
  • Place: Fairmont Hoteli, Cairo, Egypt | 20 December 2015.
  • Organisers: Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, League of Arab States (LAS) and UN-HABITAT.


This conference comes as an initiative action from Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, League of Arab States (LAS) and UN-HABITAT. This is why Egypt hosted the conference extends to three days from 20-22 December, Fairmont Hotel - Heliopolis, Cairo.

We received an invitation from the organizers as representatives of GNDR's Northern Africa and Western Asia regional hub, following our attendance to the UNISDR regional meeting “Arab Region Meeting on the Implementation of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, 8-10 November 2015, Cairo, Egypt” conducted by the UNISDR Regional Office in Cairo.

The presence at the 1st Arab Ministerial Forum for Housing and Urban Development (AMFHUD) was from mostly of Arab countries from North Africa and West Asia, in total a number of 500 participants. It brought together 15 high level ministerial delegations, representatives of national and regional organizations, private sector as well as civil society from the region. Exhibition was held to show the related projects in housing from governments and private sector.

DRR was one of three main topics discussed through the special and main plenary sessions. The other two dialogue sessions were: 1) Social Justice and 2) Planning and Sustainable Development. The opening session was launched by the Egyptian Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities who made a short speech about the idea how it was developed according cooperation between Arab Cities in having common building codes and how to achieve the slogan "Arab Urbanization ... Present Challenges and Future Prospects". The minister stressed on the importance of this first forum as a step towards achieving sustainable development aiming at elaborating mechanisms to address current and future urban challenges and opportunities in the Arab region, taking into account economic, social and environmental dimensions. AMFHUD targets to promote awareness, exchange valuable experiences across Arab States, present best practices and advocate regional cooperation. It will also inform the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular goal 11 to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

This opening session had also the following High Representatives:

  • Chair of Trustees - Arab Institute for cities development
  • Secretary General - Arab Cities Organization
  • Programme Manager - UN_HABITAT
  • Chief - Department of Environment, Housing, Water Resources and Sustainable Development - LAS

In the First Session that was set to discuss the three earlier mentioned topics, it was commonly agreed that we should have an integrated Arab Strategy for ensuring the social justice, Urban Sustainable Development and Alleviation "facing" disasters according to the regional strategies and international conventions. One of the panelists was the Assistant Manager of the Arab Center for the protection of earthquakes and other natural disasters, showed the aims of the newly established center in adding Arab Strategies in comprehensive action plan for disasters combatting and resilience.

Dialogue Sessions

Disaster Management Sessions

Iraq was leading and sharing its experience in field of DRR varies from floods control from government, CSOs and research centers. Egypt via Cairo University presented a case study about hazardous wastes management as an essential cause of health crisis to many communities. He showed the efforts exerted from logistical part for how to get concrete national action to manage hazardous wastes which gets least care for the time being in spite of its importance.

The other presentations showed the lack of preparedness to Disasters and actions are usually after crisis rather than planning before it. LAS indicted again that drought is still the major disaster facing most of Arab countries and there is a need to have an integrated Arab Strategy to tackle common risks.

One intervention indicated that Development is essential to achieve DRR as without development no plan could be achieved.

Disaster Resilience and Preparedness

Identification of disaster ... What is going on!? The main topic of this afternoon session was to identify the disasters from different points of view. Iraq was still leading the session to present their experiences regarding disaster related to war crimes and terrorism.

Mr. Haider Abd El-Hamid was in Sendai and he witnessed the disaster in Japan. He indicated that the 10 thousands did not die because of earthquake as the country was well prepared for that, but they died because of Tsunami!! This was over preparedness of the country.

It was emphasized that understanding the disaster is our driving force and mechanism of treating. I.e. Mechanism of floods is much different from tackling immigration or drought. “Putting into consideration of SD Matrix”.

There are several agreements and conventions could lead the process such as Ramsar "Wetlands" in Iraq that emphasizes on no harm of rivers and endogenous species.

Then the presentation went through the necessity of Capacity Building at different levels to reach the real community resilience till decision makers and international entities such as LAS. It was mentioned that Japanese are so unique in this matter.

Eng. Ibtisam Abd El-Jabbar Abd El-Reda "Ms."- from Iraqi government presented her research about housing challenges in Iraq including the code of buildings and destructions control according to war. She linked between war and code building that could help in saving lives. It was clear that there is lack in balance between Supply and Demand in buildings codes and preparedness to disasters.

Taking Arbil city as case study, there was a need to get identification of degree of response for housing relevant hazards of crimes on urban management to reach secured cities by having Safe Corridors in case of disasters as part of the criteria of planning of safe city.

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