Postby salsinawi » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:36 am


Dr.Mohamed Belazougui


The major October 10, 1980 Earthquake (M=7.2) that stroke the town of El Asnam and its surroundings, just 25 years after 1954 Earthquake (M=6.7), has triggered great awareness about the importance of seismic risk in Algeria. Since this event, efforts towards earthquake risk reduction and more generally, all kinds of disaster reduction have begun to be undertaken and have been integrated within the framework of the political and governmental awareness and action programs. Organisational, regulatory, training and informative countermeasures have been undertaken. In this contribution the main countermeasures and action programs are discussed.


Many aspects of social, technical, managerial, administrative, political, legislative and regulatory, and finally economical order sustain these policies. The government is providing great efforts for social development and welfare. More than 50% of the yearly state budget is allocated for education, training, health and housing. The issue of personal and property protection has been progressively but significantly taken into account only since 10.10.1980 El Asnam Earthquake.

The technical aspects of the governmental policy consist of training of the concerned population (students, engineers, researchers, and disaster managers), development and dissemination of specific knowledge, installation of monitoring seismic networks, and acquisition of research equipment.

Administratively speaking, a global and integrated national organisation has not been yet definitely decided. Indeed, after a ministerial commission has discussed and made recommendations for 14 major disasters in 1984-1985, a national plan for disaster reduction and disaster management has been drafted and translated into regulatory documents (decrees). This contributed to the increase of the awareness, vis-à-vis the responsibilities of all the regions and communes in the field of planning, management and coordination of disaster reduction programs. But the implementation is very diverse and globally not satisfactory. However, specialised technical institutions such as earthquake engineering and seismology centres, civil defence departments, etc., whose permanent missions are risk reduction and management, have provided serious efforts and introduced preliminary actions and elements to support the governmental programs at national, regional and local levels. On the other hand, National IDNDR Committee has been set up in December 1990 and has been working actively in coordinating and stimulating the activities of all institutions involved in the field of natural and technological disasters.
At the political level, funding for managing the activities and equipment acquisition within the framework of seismic risk reduction follows various paths. A yearly state budget is directly allotted to scientific and technical institutions working in the field such as Seismological and Earthquake Engineering Centres on Civil Defence Department. On the other hand, credits and aids are yearly given by local state authorities for investigation, research, training or information programs undertaken at different levels.

The legislative and regulatory aspects are taken into account by two 1985 decrees concerning disaster reduction and emergency at global level. Concerning the particular case of seismic risk, specific resistant design regulations for buildings (R.P.A. 88) have been edicted and are mandatory in their application. Specific seismic guidelines for individual houses and small buildings edited in 1994 completed these regulations.
In conclusion of this section, we can say that economic considerations have not yet hindered much in the program process, the authorities consider it as an investment with real income and results at a long-term stage. But if the present economic crisis lasts for a long time, it may have some negative influence especially for foreign concerned allotment. Consequently, the national program is concerned with training and development of national teams and means to permanently take in charge the implementation of the national policies in this field within the long-term perspective.


Global Disaster Reduction Program

As stated above, following the conclusions of the ad-hoc committee that made recommendations on various major disasters that can effect Algeria, the Government has on May 29, 1985 adopted and enforced a «Disaster Reduction and Management Plan» including many «action programs».
The global legislation and regulation framework is taken into account by :

• Decree No.85.231 of 25.8.1985, which deals with preparedness and emergency organisation,

• Decree No.85.232 of 25.8.1985, which deals with disaster reduction.
The «Action program» includes various aspects whose objectives are:

• to set up plans at all levels (national, regional, local, units) for risk reduction, preparedness, emergency,

• to make inventory of all documents, investigations, institutions and means that exist in these fields at different levels,

• to train, educate and inform the concerned people,

• to perform hazard and risk mapping at national, regional and local (urban scale or site scale) level (macro and micro-zoning),

• to set up new institutions for investigation, research, training, information, preparation and emergency in the field,

• to strengthen human resources and equipment of existing monitoring institutions including communication networks,

• to undertake vulnerability studies and evaluate the risk likely to threaten the population and economic potential,

• to integrate hazard mapping and the results of vulnerability and risk investigations in the development and the urban planning with mandatory implementations.

Seismic Risk Reduction Program

The Algerian experience began after the catastrophic 9/9/1954 El Asnam Earthquake (M=6.7) which claimed 1243 deaths and destroyed 20,000 buildings. Following this event, the French authorities at that time have enacted very succinct seismic building design regulations called «Regles A.S.55» that were used more or less for the reconstruction in the stricken region.

The deficiencies of these regulations have been observed during the terrible 10.10.1980 El Asnam Earthquake that has stricken the same region and claimed 2633 deaths, 8359 injured 348 missing, and 478,948 homeless. The earthquake destroyed more than 20,000 buildings, caused economic loss of 2 billion of US$ in direct damage to which 30% to 40% of indirect losses should be added.

Far before this later event, the national authorities were aware of the risk and have prescribed, for public programs, the application of more general seismic regulations inspired from the modern French regulations «PS 69» (CF.1973 circular of Algerian Ministry of Public Works).

But to be more efficient on what concerns the seismic protection, the «Organisme National de Contrôle Technique de la Construction» has contracted an agreement with Stanford University in 1976, in order to set up a new Draft Code which takes into account more accurately the specific parameters of Algerian construction (microzoning map, local construction techniques, etc.). This draft code was ready in 1979 and was in discussion and enrichment at the level of C.TC technical staff when 10.10.1980 El Asnam Earthquake took place. This event provided many interesting lessons that have been taken into account in the new code. That is why the code have been enacted definitely only in 1983 «RPA 81 -version 1983» after transitional period 1981-1983 during which either «PS 69 + compléments» or «RPA 81 first version» could be used.

Another consequence of this major event was that Arab Housing Ministers during their 1982 Algiers meeting have set up and adopted a special program entitled « Assessment and Mitigation of Seismic Risk in the Arab Region » (PAMERAR PROJECT) with an advantageous loan from « Social and Economic Development Arab Fund » (FADES). This program comprised the following four (4) points:

• Installation of modern seismological and strong motion networks in the seven (7) Arab Countries (Algeria, Marocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen).

• Setting up an Earthquake Engineering Centre (C.G.S.) in Algeria that will radiate on Arab and Mediterranean regions.

• Specific training in the field so that an Arab expertise will emerge as soon as possible.

• Seismic Hazard and Microzoning study of El Asnam Region.
The ad-hoc National Commission which has worked on 14 major risks and the governmental program mentioned above have integrated the PAMERAR Project into their Recommendations and Plan of Action which have been detailed by specialised institutions, each dealing with the areas concerning their activities. The detailed programs consisted of :

• supplying equipment for the scientific, technical, and research institutions as well as for the ones dealing with rescue operations (monitoring networks, laboratories, specific material),

• performing of special legislation, regulations and organisations,
• training specialists in the field,

• education and information dissemination,

• regional seismic hazard and microzoning mapping (step by step following priorities and available means),

• vulnerability and risk studies for important buildings and exposed urban nuclei.


For the period of 1981-1996 we can mention the following realisations.
1. Setting up of « CENTRE NATIONAL DE RECHERCHE APPLIQUEE EN GENIE PARASISMIQUE (C.G.S) » that have begun its activities in January 1987 with the missions and objectives as :

• to perform investigation and research activities in the field of seismic risk reduction,
• to train its future

• to build its specific research and testing laboratories,

• to train and improve the knowledge of specialists in seismic design at the national level (seminar courses, conferences and symposia...),

• to educate and inform the public and the authorities,

• to aid and assist the engineering offices and concerned institutions.

2. Regional seismic hazard study and microzoning of nine urban sites of CHLEF (former El Asnam) region (performed in 1984-1985). Microzoning of the tenth urban site (Tenes) has been performed in 1991.

3.Regional seismic hazard of Algiers region study (will be finished by mid 1997).

4. Regional seismic hazard of Ain Defla region study (will be finished by mid 1997).
5. Microzoning study of Algiers (was finished on March 1997).
6. Regional seismic hazard and microzoning of Mascara region (has begun on April 1996).

7. Microzoning study of four urban sites of Ain Defla region (will begin probably by the end 1997).

8.Vulnerability study of strategic buildings of Algiers - 1st Phase (was finished by the end of 1996).

9.Vulnerability study of strategic buildings of Algiers - 2nd Phase (has begun on January 1997).

10.Equiping «Centre de Recherche en Géophysique CRAAG » with modern seismological telemetered network (operational since 1995).

11.Equiping C.G.S. with national strong motion network:

• 90 accelerograms were installed in 1984-85

• 120 accelerograms have been acquired in 1991 and progressively installed on free-field and in special buildings.

On the other hand, C.G.S. has integrated about fifty (50) accelerograms of various institutions (Dams office «A.N.B.» and Electric and Gaz Corporation «SONELGAZ.» ) in its National Network with the responsibility of their maintenance and exploitation.

12.Implementation of seismic regulations (RPA 81 have become RPA 88) and a new version RPA 1997 is in the preparation stage.
13.Introduction of seismic design and dynamics modules in normal courses of all civil engineering institutions and high schools all around the country (since 1981-1985).

14.The last Tipaza (10.29.1989) and Mascara (8.18.1994) Earthquakes have allowed consistent progress in post-seismic emergency and rehabilitation techniques and steps were taken towards damage and vulnerability assessments of various structural types (masonry, reinforced concrete, etc.).


The first priorities in regional seismic zonation for the last ten years were El Asnam and Ain Defla identified as the most hazardous areas (zone III of macrozonation map of seismic design regulations R.P.A.) and Algiers region as the most important in population concentration and from political and economical considerations. For the next ten years, based on the experience gained during the studies achieved for these regions, other important urban or industrial sites in similar regions will be proposed for microzonation mapping. In parallel with these studies other regions will be studied to cover all Region II of the RPA macrozonation map, the moderate seismic region, with regional seismic hazard macrozonation maps and with microzonation maps for urban or industrial sites according
to the following priority list:

• Mascara region
• Oran-Arzew region
• Skikda-Annaba region
• Jijel-Constantine region
• Bejaia-Setif-Tizi-Ouzou region
• Other regions of zone II

On the other hand, C.G.S. intends to prepare circulars and orders or ordinance projects to be introduced by Urban Planning and Building Ministry in order to enforce the integration of the results of microzoning studies in urban planning and the results of regional hazard assessment and mapping in regional development planning.

Within the same framework, it is planned to educate and inform the local urban planners, construction staff and decision-makers more comprehensively so that they would integrate seismic risk in the future developments.

Dr.Mohamed Belazougui
Delegate of Algeria in EAEE
and First Director of C.G.S.
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