Thursday, June 12, 2014

Emergency management in the Arabian Peninsula: A case study from the Sultanate of Oman.

With the announcement of the impending 'cyclonic storm', I thought to highlight some the dangers regarding living in Oman according to a training report of FEMA (The American Federal Emergency Management Agency) entitled, Emergency management in the Arabian Peninsula: A case study from the Sultanate of Oman. In short, the top hazards that ex-pats could face in Oman are being in a car accident or being a casualty of a cyclone. 

You can read in it full here (.doc file):

"For instance, some would argue that the response of Petroleum Development Oman to Cyclone Gonu was by far more prompt and adequate than the governmental response."
  1. According to the report, 'hazards' in Oman are either 'human-made or non-human made'.
  2. On its way....Cyclonic Storm NANAUK, June 11, 2014
    Track the storm at:
    'Forecasted Path of Cyclone Gonu 2007
    • Natural Hazards
      • Cyclones - Cause flash flooding and winds.
        • Construction worker camps most vulnerable.
        • Complacency of population led to bad outcomes.
        • Lack of emergency response units and supplies to decentralized areas.
        • Power and water outages for a week.
        • Past Cyclones: 1977, 1981, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010
      • Survival Tips (obvious but many caught in past cyclones were under prepared)
        • Have extra jugs of water, non-perishable food, money and medicines on hand. Have candles or solar powered light and recharger.
        • Move vehicles or personal belongings to higher ground for those in potential flood areas. Secure pets. 
        • Leave dangerous areas that may flood out. Take a sojourn to the interior. 
      • Earthquakes - affects north of Oman
    • Human-made Hazards
      • Road accidents - more than 1000 per year, bad behaviours of drivers
      • Health in newly industialized cities like Sohar - pollution, melt down of the Aluminum smelter, etc
      • Security issues with geopolitically 'hot' neighboring countries such as Yemen and Iran.
      • Survival Tips
        • Nothing seems to help the accident rate even though much has been said, suggested and tried; all I can say is be safe and have a stronger car/SUV.  The increased accident rate seems to be linked directly with the user behaviour of the drivers; which ultimately I think is psychologically linked to how information is processed at different speeds with distractions by the driver. For example, in many Asian countries people drive at higher speeds with more distractions but less accidents.
  3. Lessons
    "The first record of establishing a national-level emergency management system started in the year 1988."
    • National Committee for Civil Defense (NCCD) became autonomous entity in 2002.
    • Emergency management needs to actively prepare instead of react.
    • Integrate emergency management into the development of the country
    • Partner with private entities such as PDO because they are way ahead of the (NCCD) 
    • Have local supply depots instead of only centralized (in case the roads are blocked)
    • Ensure 'basics of life' first
    • Implement the laws that are in force concerning emergency management
    • Have more local grass roots management system

      "Omani people tend to under-estimate the natural hazard and the lethality of natural disasters. During the recent cyclones many people travelled long distances to see the “new rivers” not appreciating the risk"

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