Published 23 August 2023

RESLOG: National Conference, Community First Responders for Forest Fires & Crisis Response in Lebanon

On August 17–18, the National Conference Community First Responders for Forest Fires & Crisis Response took place at the Training Center of the Lebanese Red Cross in Jounieh, Lebanon. The conference hosted by SALAR International united visionary partners to elevate community First Responders in the presence of H.E. Dr. Nasser Yassine, the Minister of Environment in Lebanon.

First Responder Team members, Sonia Ez Dine and Nesrine Mouhamad.

In August 2020, SALAR International initiated the establishment of the first responder's team in partnership with the union of Jurd El Qayteh in Akkar. The first responder's team was successful and thus a new chapter unfolded with the launch of a Crisis Management Unit in 2022. This unit marked a pivotal step towards centralizing response efforts and streamlining collaboration among various stakeholders. It signaled an evolution from isolated responses to a comprehensive and unified approach to crises. In parallel, SALAR International undertook an extensive study examining all first responder teams in Lebanon, a study that paved the way for a newly published policy brief. This brief laid bare essential findings that shed light on the efficacy of community first responders in addressing forest fires and crises.

These findings took center stage during the First National Conference on Community First Responders to Forest Fires and Crisis Response, on August 17–18 – an event with a focus on reshaping crisis management strategies and transforming local efforts into a national movement. The goal was to institutionalize these teams within existing national structures and foster collaboration among various entities. The conference brought together diverse actors and organizations committed to bolstering community resilience.

The conference featured a speech by Ryan Knox, Managing Director of SALAR International. His words underscored the complexity of modern challenges – from shifting demographics to evolving geopolitical dynamics, and together with the conference participants, he acknowledged the profound impact that both natural and manmade disasters can have on societies. In addition, the Minister of Environment Dr. Nasser Yassin emphasized the significance of this inaugural conference – the first of its kind in Lebanon.

From insightful talks to tech demos, data-driven crisis response was explored with partners like the Ministry of Environment, DRM unit, Lebanese Red Cross, and other national actors and first responders. The conference concluded that future plans include setting standards, clarifying legalities, training drills, and infrastructure and institutionalization to empower responders.

Ryan Knox, Minister of Environment Nasser Yassin, Reslog Lebanon Country Project Manager Souraya Hammoud.

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