Preparedness Plan for Current hazards and vulnerabilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Management of situations regarded potentially hazardous in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia especially by the Makkah people has been practiced for several centuries. The Makkah inhabitants had a practice of evacuating their houses for pilgrims who came to worship at the Holy Mosque. Therefore, they developed a concept of serving mass gatherings which later developed into disaster management as seen in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today (Alamri, 2012). The modern Saudi Arabia has had a fair share of risks associated with mass religious gatherings as well as natural and other forms of disasters. The desire to improve on the emergency management plans and policies prompts the need to have a critical focus on the current systems of disaster management. Past disasters also need to be reviewed in order to have a glimpse of the specific lessons learned so as to avoid such pitfalls in the future. Nevertheless, most of the disaster management plans currently practiced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cannot be obtained easily, lack full documentation or are totally out of date.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has encountered numerous disasters over the years. Although the Kingdom has been associated with magnificence in terms of its devotion towards offering humanitarian assistance to nations facing disasters and calamities, it has failed back at home to develop effective disaster management policies (Al-Yahya & Fustier, 2011). Presently, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not have coherent disaster management framework as well as a central agency that can offer coordination and supervision to relief operations. On the contrary, multiple actors working chaotically with cross-purposes are charged with the responsibility of managing the Kingdom’s disasters. A biting dearth of professional and permanent staff to respond effectively and swiftly to man-made or natural calamities is highly prevalent in the Kingdom. To this day, the modalities for evaluation and monitoring disasters and calamities are still nascent (Al-Yahya & Fustier, 2011). It is on this background that this research is embedded. It is seeks to analyze the existing disaster management policies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and come up with articulate recommendations on how they can be improved.
The aim of this research proposal will be to analyze the management of situations potentially hazardous in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to determine the level of preparedness in terms of available plans. This preparedness plans are means to reduce the extent of the vulnerabilities and hazardous situations. This research will undertake to analyze such disaster management levels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the basis of the guidelines proposed by the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The main role of the NIMS is to identify principles and concepts to provide answers on the effective methods of managing emergencies. NIMS further outlines the guidelines on managing emergencies right from preparedness levels to the recovery irrespective of the nature and extent of the damage, size, complexity or cause.
- To identify and describe the various potentially hazardous situations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- To develop and improve methods and ways of managing disaster and emergencies in a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach manner in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- To teach and train the stakeholders and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the fields of disaster management and preparedness.
- To establish dialogue and build collaboration in order to ensure improved coordination and communication towards disaster management in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- To a facilitate a future with more integrated systems of emergency preparedness leading to improvement in the effectiveness of handling emergencies in the Kingdom of Kuwait on the basis of broad knowledge acquisition.
For improvement to be attained in the existing systems of emergency and disaster management, it is an essential requirement that the existing systems of emergency management are examined well. Additionally, it is of very grave importance that the people involved undertake a recap on past disasters so as to learn important based on the experience. By so doing, it is possible for people to learn from past mistakes and prepare well for the future. The objectives of this research form the basis through which decisions are to be made pertaining emergency preparedness and planning throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The research will undertake to give a detailed description of the various disasters and emergencies that have wrecked havoc throughout the history of Saudi Arabia (Thompson et al., 2004). The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia needs to ensure that appropriate measures and plans are in place to counter incidences of natural or human calamity. Similarly, this research is committed towards establishing a platform through which the right training can be offered to all people on how to deal with certain forms of emergency incidences.
Relevance to professional or Academic field
I’m a graduate studying Emergency Health Services. My experience is in the emergency health services and disaster management at Red Crescent since 2002 and I have finished post- baccalaureate certificate in disaster management as well. An advanced study of the disaster preparedness plans to current hazards and vulnerabilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a crucial undertaking as it leads to the spread of knowledge and information on this very important area. At the moment, the area of disaster preparedness in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not well researched and therefore requires adequate attention from scholars (Momani et al., 2010). Consequently, it is upon upcoming scholars in this field to devote their time and effort to ensure that this area has obtained maximum attention in terms of research. Through proper research, it is expected that the level of attention towards disaster management and preparedness will be improved immensely. It is also expected that articulate research will avail numerous recommendations upon which disaster management plans will be drawn by the stakeholders. Furthermore, the findings of this research will be of paramount importance to not only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also other nations worldwide struggling to develop effective and efficient disaster and emergency management systems.
Many people are displaced when such disasters happen and even many tend to lose their loved ones during such disasters. Efficient disaster management programs are therefore critical during such times in ensuring the smooth running of operations. The Master period also gave me an opportunity to work on many disaster plans with experienced people in the field which was a good learning experience for me. The Center for Emergency Education and Disaster Research at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County provides consulting, training, assessment, and planning services for public safety, public health and emergency management agencies. It also provides its services to organizations in private sector. I have also done disaster plans, for example, public health preparedness for the disaster at Prince Georges County at Maryland State, and Belmar Disaster Plan, and hurricane preparedness in Sussex County, Delaware.
The existence of Center for Emergency Education and Disaster Research (CEEDR) is an important milestone towards the development of articulate disaster management plans based on proper research work from highly experienced and skilled professionals (Alamri, 2012). CEEDR uses a multi disciplinary approach towards nitrating real-life experiences of disaster and emergencies with theory to design and implement research and training projects in sync with disaster preparedness plans and response. CEEDR is highly equipped in virtually all areas pertaining to disaster management and preparedness. This is evident through the numerous emergency response projects that range from decision making on emergency situations to actual hospital incident command and response. At the same time, CEEDR is highly prepared to deal with numerous issues arising to disaster and emergency response such as training, research needs, and planning on various issues of disaster management. The center boasts of specialized excellence whereby world renowned emergency preparedness, disaster management, critical incident stress management (CISM) and emergency public health staff is employed. The staff members are also highly in touch with the evolving discipline of emergency response towards terrorism related emergencies and disasters.
Saudi Arabia’s emergency plan and preparedness decision structure
The humanitarian aid scene in Saudi Arabia is characterized with immense fragmentation and complexity. This makes it very difficult for one to understand the operation structure and decision making. There are two tier groups that play a crucial role in the decision making and implementation of the disaster and emergency plans. The decision making organ is made up of the royal leadership and powerful ministries including interior, foreign affairs and finance. On the other hand, the organ charged with the mandate of implementing the decisions made is comprised of various organizations such as Saudi Red Crescent (SCR), the Saudi Fund for Development, Religious Charities, Non-governmental organizations as well as Saudi relief campaigns and committees. There are no clear distinctions between the decision making organ and the implementers of such decisions. Consequently, there are several cases whereby each group gets involved in the work of the other. There is very little or no condition of the various institutions involved in the implementation of emergency preparedness plans in Saudi Arabia.
The development of emergency preparedness plans in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been on for several decades. However, the development progress has been undertaken at a very slow pace. The first ever emergency management body was a fire brigade formed in 1927 in Makkah (Ministry of Interior, 2001). The main purpose of the fire brigade was to offer service to the pilgrims who came to Makkah for annual prayers. Being the first of its kind the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the fire brigade was managed by the Provincial Council of Makkah. Later in 1948, the fire brigade was integrated into the Center of General Security forming General Security and Fire Services. The institution grew immensely over the next three decades and had five brigades in the city of Makkah alone. Other cities also followed suit in forming fire brigades. They included Medina, Qasim, Riyadh, Dammam, and Jiddah. The institution existed for several years, however, a Royal Decree issued King Faisal led to the dissolution of the General Security and Fire Services. In the place of General Security and Fire Services, King Faisal formed the Directorate of Civil Defense (GDCD).
Presently, there is a general absence of scholarly research in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the area of disaster preparedness plans and emergency management. Therefore, this research will attempt to identify the current practices by undertaking collection of primary data. While the process of collecting primary data for research is often challenging and characterized with some level of bias especially when undertaking interviews and obtaining responses through questionnaires, it also helps paint the actual picture on the ground pertaining to the phenomena under investigation. This particular study will therefore involve primary data collection through interviews and questionnaires. The main target population for this research project is the policy makers in Saudi Arabia.
The researcher will conduct an in-depth interview with at least 50 policymakers on the prevailing issues and practices on disaster preparedness plans. Similarly, the researcher will undertake a review of secondary data from the international scholarship works, non-governmental research studies on disaster management and preparedness as well as governmental scholarship works about disaster management and preparedness plans. The research will also attempt to analyze the extent of involvement of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in humanitarian aid. This will be studied through the use of OCHA financial tracking services (FTS). However, it is expected that this will not be exhaustive as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not always report all humanitarian aids undertaken. Therefore, the researcher will also utilize media reports and interviews to obtain further information.
The study on the implementation of emergency preparedness plans in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provides a major learning opportunity about the historical perspectives of the disaster and emergency management approaches on Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an extended geography and is also a destination for two very important religious mass gatherings. Unfortunately, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has suffered terrorism attacks hence posing very significant challenges to the management of emerging emergency preparedness plans. There has been a slowed learning process from past disasters that have struck the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There has also been a slow process of implementation of emergency preparedness plans during the times of emergencies. The authorities have intensified the screening levels and levels of vigilance in the recent years due to the increased number of insurgency attacks targeting the Saudi citizens. The war against terrorism is on as list of the names of terrorism suspects alongside their photographs are published on a regular basis. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also implemented new and comprehensive digital control and traffic systems in an attempt to limit MVCs as well as subsequent damage associated with them. There have also been a slow projects and developments to implement the Hajj process and make it easier. Although very slow, most of these projects have been completed. The Makkah Metro project is one very recent and very important developmental project (Adasaj & Hamed, 2010). This project hopes to connect the various places visited by Pilgrims with the Holy Mosque.
Adasah, J. & Hamad, M. (2010). Installation of Train Carriages on Metro Tracks. Al-Riyadh Newspaper.
Alamri, A.Y. (2012). Emergency Management in Saudi Arabia: Past, Present and Future. ChristChurch School of Medicine, University of Otago and Van der Veer Research Institute.
Al-Yahya, K. & Fustier, N. (2011). Saudi Arabia as a Humanitarian Donor: High Potential, Little Institutionalization. Global Public Policy Institute Research Paper No.14.
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Momani, M.N. & Fadil, A.S. (2010). Changing Public Policy due to Saudi City of Jeddah Flood Disaster. Journal of Social Sciences, 6(3), 424-428.
Saher (2010). Ministry of Interior.
Thompson, D., Brown, S., Mallonee, S. & Sunshine, D. (2004). Fatal and Non-fatal injuries among U.S. Air Force Personnel resulting from the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers. Journal of Trauma, 57, 208-15.