Algeria is bordered by Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and the Mediterranean Sea. Algeria is divided into 58 wilāyās (provinces), and each has its own elected assembly, executive council and governor. Each province is divided into dawāʾir (districts) and then into baladīyāt (communes), at a local affairs level, each has its own assembly (Assemblée Populaire Communale).
As of July 2019, the total population of Algeria is 43 million, more than 90 per cent of whom live along the coast that accounts for only 12 per cent of the country’s landmass. The country is mainly inhabited by Arab-Berber people and a small nomadic/semi-nomadic population – about 1.5 million.
The real GDP growth for the first quarter of 2020 dropped by 3.9 per cent largely attributed to the impact of COVID-19, prior to this, the country had recorded 1.4 per cent and 1.5 percent growth in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Oil rent has enabled Algeria to clear external debt, improve infrastructure and elevate the human development indicators. As of September 2020, the unemployment rate is 15 per cent; this is higher among youth (29 percent), women (19.4 per cent) and university graduates (18.5 per cent).
Risks, Hazards and Preparedness
Algeria is prone to earthquakes, floods, drought, landslides, locust infestation and tsunamis. Between 2015 and 2017, Algeria was affected by floods in south-west areas, mainly arid Tandouf, which hosts five Sahrawi Refugee camps.
On 18 March 2021, an earthquake of 6.0 magnitude struck the Algerian coast, north-east of the city of Bejaia which hosts about 164,000 people and was followed by several aftershocks. The earthquake resulted in damage to residences and partial collapse of unoccupied buildings - no injuries or casualties were reported. The last earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 was reported on 20 August 2020, it hit Mila province about 350 km east of the capital Algiers. Prior to this, in May 2003, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 hit northern Algeria and resulted in more than 2,200 deaths, 10,000 injuries and rendered at least 180,000 people homeless. This earthquake required international response including an UNDAC team. Algeria also witnessed two oil and gas spills during the 1980s.
Algeria’s commitment to disaster resilience dates to the early 1980s when the country adopted a disaster reduction and management plan in 1985 with dedicated technical capacities for the development and dissemination of seismic knowledge, monitoring and research.
The Civil Protection Directorate is the primary body responsible for coordination and implementation of the preparedness, response and recovery measures at the national and local levels. In 2016, Civil Protection authorities (DGPC) and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) formalized a cooperation agreement to support disaster risk management; the main objective is to put in place operational coordination procedures for interventions.
Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Since 1975, Algeria hosts about 134,000 refugees from Western Sahara and 9,600 asylum seekers. They live in camps in the harsh and isolated desert environment of western Algeria, where opportunities for self-reliance are limited, forcing them to depend on humanitarian assistance for their survival. The 2018 Food Security Assessment confirmed the dependence on food assistance: 30 per cent of are food insecure, while 58 per cent are vulnerable to food insecurity, and only 12 per cent of the Sahrawi camp population is food secure. Upon the request of Algerian Government, WFP has been present in the camps since 1986 and provides food assistance to the refugees.