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Developing a framework for integrated seismic risk assessment in Algeria: The ITERATE project

Article - The ITERATE project

In recent years, the use of large scale seismic risk assessment has become increasingly popular to evaluate the fragility of a specific region to an earthquake event, through the convolution of hazard, exposure and vulnerability. These studies have provided quantitative evidence that regions with a significant percentage of non-seismically designed buildings, such as Algeria, are particularly vulnerable to seismic events.

Algeria is no stranger to this statement since it has been severely affected by past earthquakes in the northern part of the country (e.g. El Asnam 1980 Mw 7.1 or Boumerdés 2003 Mw 6.8). These events have caused thousands of fatalities as well as billions in damages, leaving the country in a state of emergency for extended periods of time. As a result, the Algerian government implemented several regulations to prevent and manage this situations, demonstrating its political will to promote disaster risk reduction. However, limited resources and capacities, lack of cross-sectoral coordination and, mainly, awareness among several stakeholders have impeded the full implementation of the conceived policies and the current seismic risk is unknown.

The ITERATE project

As a part of the European Union initiative to reduce risk among its members, as well as is neighbouring countries, the project ITERATE (Improved Tools for Disaster Risk Mitigation in Algeria) is an EU funded project focusing on disaster risk reduction in Algeria. Its objective is to implement an improved framework for seismic risk assessment that can be replicated to other natural hazards, making use of a geographical and scientific privileged combination of expertise in Algeria, Portugal and Italy.

The project involves a collaboration between three main institutions:

Istituto Universitario di Studi Superiori di Pavia (Italy) – Coordinator
Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto (Portugal)
Centre de Recherche en Astronomie Astrophysique et Géophysique (Algeria)

How will it work?
The project aspires to empower Algeria's capacity to enforce seismic risk reduction measures through a dual objective: address the lack of state-of-the-art tools for the seismic risk assessment throughout the country, while engaging local authorities and increasing the awareness of local population and practitioners.

Therefore, typical seismic risk assessment tasks, like fine tuning existing hazard models and developing new exposure and vulnerability models for the characterization of the behaviour of the building and infrastructure inventory, will be complemented with training and outreach events. The work progress will be documented on the project website ( and other sources readily available to the public to insure the involvement of identified stakeholders.

In total, the project has been structured in eight operative tasks with objectives ranging from management, technical, social and publicity areas, all under the coordination of IUSS Pavia.