Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Reducation
New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
Africa is the only continent whose share of reported disasters in the world total has increased over the past decade. More people are affected by natural hazards, and economic losses incurred are rising. Disaster impacts have become an impediment to sustainable development in Africa. Disaster risk reduction policies and institutional mechanisms do exist at various degrees of completeness in African countries. However, their effectiveness is limited, hence the need for a strategic approach to improving and enhancing their effectiveness and efficiency by emphasizing disaster risk reduction. The African Union (AU) and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) offers the opportunity to promote such a strategic change. Indeed, the need to address the issue of disasters comprehensively came to the fore during the process of developing NEPAD’s operational programmes by the NEPAD Secretariat, which provided the impetus for the development of an Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction. To develop the Strategy, a baseline study was carried out to establish the status of disaster risk reduction in Africa. It emerged from the study that development was at risk from disasters mainly because of gaps in the following areas: institutional frameworks; risk identification; knowledge management; governance; and emergency response. In the light of all the above concerns, the aim of the Strategy is to contribute to the attainment of sustainable development and poverty eradication by facilitating the integration of disaster risk reduction into development. The Strategy’s objectives are to: (1) increase political commitment to disaster risk reduction; (2) improve identification and assessment of disaster risks; (3) enhance knowledge management for disaster risk reduction; (4) increase public awareness of disaster risk reduction; (5) improve governance of disaster risk reduction institutions; and (6) integrate of disaster risk reduction in emergency response management. The Strategy suggests strategic directions to achieve these objectives. The following stakeholders have key institutional roles to play in the implementation and monitoring of the Strategy: AU/NEPAD, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Africa Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction1, national governments, major groups (mainly civil society bodies and the private sector) and international development partners. This Strategy, which is to be followed by a Programme of Action, was reviewed at several forums May/June 2004: a Meeting of Experts to discuss the Strategy, an African Regional Consultations on the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR), and the Second Meeting of the Africa Working Group on disaster risk reduction. The Strategy was adopted by African ministers at the 10th Meeting of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) from 26-30 June 2004 and submitted to the AU Assembly Summit, where the Strategy was positively received by Heads of State at the 3rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 6-8 July 2004, with a call to develop a Programme of Action for its implementation.