H.E. Amb. Josefa Leonel Correia SACKO Commissioner for Rural Economy and made the statement recently when launching the Inaugural Africa Biennial Report on Disaster Risk Reduction.
According to the Commissioner this becomes particularly important as more and more disasters emerge to hit the continent. The COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point. Strong legislations and policies would ensure effective coordination and resource allocation for response and recovery efforts.
She said that Africa has always been at the forefront of the development of the DRR policy agenda since 2004. In 2004 the AU member states developed the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. A Programme of Action for the implementation of the Strategy was developed and was subsequently revised to be aligned with the global Hyogo Plan of Action, which had a timeframe of 2005-2015.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted as the Global Framework in 2015 and it replaced the Hyogo Plan of Action. Africa was the first continent to develop the Programme of Action (PoA) for the implementation of the Sendai Framework. This Programme of action was adopted by the AU Heads of State during the January 2017 Assembly.
In 2018, in Tunis, Tunisia, the High Level Ministerial Meeting for DRR adopted a Monitoring and Reporting Framework for the PoA that was developed by the AUC. This Framework seeks to facilitate monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the PoA. The High Level Ministerial Meeting further tasked the AUC to develop the biennial report on the implementation of the PoA, using the monitoring and reporting framework. This report, Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, is the first report on the implementation of the PoA.
“This ground-breaking achievement would not have been possible without the support of the African Union Member States, RECs and partners” she explained adding that more than 40 AU Member States participated in the data collection workshops held at EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD, SADC and North Africa, while total of 50 Member States (91%) provided data for this biennial report.
She noted that this represents an overwhelming response by both Member States and RECs. The AUC would like to congratulate and thank the Member States and RECs for this accomplishment. “We hope to see the same level of support and participation for the next report, which covers the 2019-2020 period. The AUC has already started preparations for data collection for the next report, “She added.
SACKO mentioned few issues that raised by this inaugural report:
First, the report points out that allocation of resources to DRR still remains low, this in spite of the acknowledgement by the AU member states that DRR is an important issue. The policy frameworks and declarations all speak to the political will to further the DRR objective in the continent. I urge member state to translate the political will into more practical actions by increasing resource allocation to DRR.
Second, the report noted that few countries and RECs reported to have DRR legislations in place. The AUC would like to urge member states to develop legislations that will empower their DRR institutions. This becomes particularly important as more and more disasters emerge to hit the continent. The COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point. Strong legislations and policies would ensure effective coordination and resource allocation for response and recovery efforts.
Third, we commend the RECS and member states for the efforts they are making in improving the risk knowledge. Many capacity building activities, including knowledge networks, have been formed and countries are making steady progress in curriculum development for DRR. Most efforts, however, are centred on natural hazards. With the lessons from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, I would like to strongly encourage the member states to extend risk knowledge to other risks beyond natural hazards. The Covid-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to the need to incorporate epidemics in our risk profiles. I hope the next report will be full of lessons learnt and good practices in this regard.
She noted that Report covers the period 2015-2018, using 2015-2016 as the baseline. It measures Africa’s progress on 12 targets (7 global and 5 specific to Africa). Among these targets are reduction of disaster mortalities, economic losses, losses to critical infrastructures and disruption of basic services, increasing domestic resources allocation.
Comparing the two periods (2015-2016) and (2017-2018), the report highlights the following:
1. Africa risk profile is increasing:a. Hazards are increasing. The number of disasters increased from 311 in 2015-2016 to 474 in 2017-2018.b. Vulnerability and exposure are increasing.c. Coping capacity is declining .2. Disaster mortalities increased from over 31,000 in 2015-2016 to more than 36,000 in 2017-20183. However, the number of affected people, I am glad to report, decreased from over 58 million in 2015-2016 to 22 million in 2017-20184. Economic losses increased from 2 billion in 2015-2016 to 8 billion in 2017-20185. Only 22% of the 50 Countries that participated have DRR strategies in place and 5% of those with strategies are fully implementing them6. In term of other targets that are specific to Africa, only 1 country (Rwanda is fully on track. Other countries such as Ghana, Algeria, Kenya, and Sudan have made important programme. Kindly refer to the dash board in the report for further details.
As evidenced in the summary above, disasters are on increase and driven mostly by climate change and variability. Natural degradation is also adding another layer to the occurrence of hazards, facilitating even viruses such as Coronavirus to cross species boundary in order to infect humans.
The AU Commission is committed to reducing disaster risks and losses. As an Agronomist, I associate resilience with food security. One of my priorities has been building resilience to Disaster and Climate risks which continue to impact our continent. Drought, floods and pests are some of the hazards threatening food security in Africa. In my interactions with African Ministers responsible for Disaster Risk Reduction at global and Africa’s fora, I have always insisted that Disaster Risk Reduction is a matter of survival and that resilience building must be our ways of life.
She concludes that AUC is already working on the second report and hopes to use the lessons from this inaugural report, as well as your valuable guidance, to continue improving the quality of subsequent Africa biennial reports to make them as helpful as possible in supporting the implementation of the PoA.