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APDIM in the News

Official elaborates on APDIM contributions to respond to recent floods in Iran

Islamic Republic News Agency

Tehran, 28 August 2022

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Photo by IRNA

"APDIM, in collaboration with its partner countries, provided the National Disaster Management Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran (NDMO) with high-resolution satellite images of the areas severely affected by the floods in July and August 2022. The images were produced by cutting-edge satellite technology and helped the pertinent responsible organization to better locate and assess the impacts and damages of the flood for more effective response operation and recovery programmes," Mostafa Mohaghegh said in an exclusive interview with IRNA. 

The recent flash floods had their roots in the monsoon, which is a seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing, or strongest, winds of a region. According to NDMO, the recent floods led to the death of 82 people and caused damages estimated at around USD 1.5 billion.

It happened in 24 provinces, including East Azarbaijan, Isfahan, Alborz, Bushehr, Tehran, Chaharmahal-o Bakhtiari, South Khorasan, Razavi Khorasan, Khuzestan, Zanjan, Semnan, Sistan and Baluchestan, Fars, Qazvin, Qom, Kerman, Kogiluyeh and Boyerahmad, Golestan, Lorestan, Mazandaran, Markazi, Hormozgan, Hamedan, and Yazd.

A flash flood caused by heavy rains killed five people and injured nine others in Imamzadeh Davood (a holy shrine), northern Tehran.

"Since its establishment, APDIM and its host country, the Islamic Republic of Iran, have worked closely in a variety of areas ranging from disaster risk reduction to disaster response," Mohaghegh said, adding: "This cooperation has grown in several areas, such as integrating disaster risk reduction in the national and sectoral development planning to map the regional trends and impacts of sand and dust storms and providing satellite images and data on the flood-affected areas in Iran. "

"Similarly, in 2019 and following the massive floods which affected most parts of Iran, APDIM facilitated the provision of satellite images and information on the affected areas," he stated.

"Moreover, APDIM co-organized with the Plan and Budget Organization and the University of Tehran a Regional Conference on Hydrological Risks Including Floods in Asia and the Pacific in Tehran in 2019, which brought together officials and experts from countries of the region and contributed to exchanging available knowledge and experiences in the region to reduce the risk and negative impacts of floods and other hydrological disasters," he stressed.

"APDIM also contributed to developing the National Flood Report of Iran in 2019. Also, APDIM, with the support of the ESCAP secretariat, provided international knowledge and expertise to assess the economic impacts of floods in conducting the Post-Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNA) of floods in Iran," he noted.

Commenting on the role of knowledge and information in disaster risk reduction and management, Mohaghegh said: "Disasters impose heavy negative impacts on the socioeconomic development of communities and countries; therefore, collecting and analyzing risk data and converting it to information and knowledge for well-informed decision-making is vital."

"Data, information, and knowledge play an important role in disaster risk reduction and management, from prevention and mitigation to preparedness, response, and recovery."

"This is highly important in better understanding and monitoring natural hazards such as flood, earthquake, and sand and dust storm, and assessing the risks and vulnerabilities in infrastructures, population, and other socioeconomic sectors," he said.

"Information management provides a deeper understanding of the key question of how disaster resilience policies can help and empower the poorest and most marginalized people by identifying specific vulnerabilities, he added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Mohaghegh termed innovative data technology as low-cost solutions for closing the gaps, saying: "Big data is the analysis of massive data sets to reveal patterns, trends, and relationships. For disaster resilience, the data crumbs can come from a wide variety of sources."

"A wide range of data sources can provide data pieces for disaster resilience. Technologies such as satellite and aeroplane data and imageries, the Internet of Things, computer models, online forums, social media, and Geographic Positioning Systems are all examples of data sources," he noted.

"In all disaster management phases, new technologies can provide data and information that can close the gaps to create situation evaluations, notably for damage assessment and people impacted," he stated.

"Climate change and its associated extreme weather events have added complexity to disasters creating significant uncertainty."

"Enhanced technology and greater data availability have made the risk of many disasters better understood and more predictable. However, more usable data and deeper analysis are required to compensate for the unusual trends caused by climate change."

"Climate-related disasters, particularly floods and droughts, have been rising, with serious consequences for hunger and malnutrition," he said, adding: "Floods can have a consequence on food security and nutrition by reducing food production, which impacts the livelihoods of both agricultural and non-agricultural communities."

"Many of the region's disasters extend across national boundaries. Dust storms may rapidly wash into neighbouring nations, and floods in one country might quickly spread downstream to others."

"More than 80 per cent of the entire population of Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran are exposed to medium and high levels of poor air quality due to sand and dust storms. To enhance collective and coordinated response to the intensifying challenges of this phenomenon in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP member States endorsed the Regional Plan of Action on Sand and Dust Storms in Asia and the Pacific in 2022," he said.

"This emphasizes the necessity of regional collaboration in monitoring disaster trends and assessing their impacts, as well as collaborating across the high-risk zones to reduce the impacts and damages and enhance the resilience of people and systems against disasters in the countries of the region."

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