Disaster risk knowledge programme kicks off in southern Africa

Apr 15, 2016

Through the EU-funded 5-year programme, technical staff will learn to install and use a global disaster loss accounting system called DesInventar.

As southern African countries deal with the effects of El Nino and prepare for La Nina, representatives of disaster risk management authorities in the sub-region convened this week to kick off a risk knowledge programme focused on how to measure losses caused by disasters, to help inform policy and development planning.

“This initiative is a fundamental step for the generation and exchange of information, as well as building capacities for identifying our common experiences with disasters and losses in the region,” said Dr. Eugénio César Laborinho, Angolan State Minister of Interior, who hosted the meeting in the capital, Luanda. Participants from other Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States included Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.

The risk knowledge programme is led by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and is being implemented with support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Risk knowledge is one component of the EUR 80 million Building Disaster Resilience to Natural Hazards in Sub-Saharan African Regions, Countries and Communities that is funded by the European Union as part of cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. The African Union Commission, UNISDR, the World Bank Group Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the African Development Bank are implementing this regional initiative.

The Luanda meeting was an opportunity for disaster risk management actors to discuss the risk knowledge programme and agree on coordinated regional action in line with international and regional commitments. 

“The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, adopted in March last year as a successor instrument to the Hyogo Framework for Action, is a holistic approach to ensure that disaster risk reduction is integrated into all public policy including health, education, transportation, agriculture, investment and development,” said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Angola Dr. Pier Paolo Balladelli.

“The Yaoundé Declaration – endorsed at the 4th High Level Meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction - also urges Member States and Africa’s regional economic communities to align their strategies with the Sendai Framework, and asks ministers of planning, economy and finance to incorporate disaster risk reduction into their policies,” Dr. Balladelli said.

Through the EU-funded 5-year programme, technical staff in the participating countries will be trained to install and use a global disaster loss accounting system called DesInventar to track disaster losses and damages. This data and other analysis will then be used to create risk and vulnerability profiles to help identify cost-effective and evidence-based policy and financial options to reduce disaster risk.

“Risk management is predominantly a governance concern and a process that is as much political and economic, as it is technical,” said Dr. Balladelli to meeting participants. “We also need to work better together – across disciplines and sectors. We need leaders such as you, who dare to move outside your respective communities of disaster risk managers and insist on both recording disaster losses and learning from the past so that we can avoid the same things happening again and again.”

Participants in the meeting included Chief of Cooperation of the EU Delegation in Angola Dr. Fernando Trabada, Angola’s Civil Protection and Firefighting Service Commissioner António Vicente Gimbe, as well as representatives of UNISDR.

“Tracking disaster losses is the first and most important step in enabling evidence-based policy decisions internally, but also in reporting internationally against the Sendai targets,” said Julio Serge, of UNISDR’s office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Continuing the roll-out of the risk knowledge programme after the sub-regional meeting, representatives of national bodies responsible for disaster and risk information management in Angola convened to kick off the establishment of the country’s risk knowledge system. Participants included the National Civil Protection Commission, the Civil Protection and Firefighting Service and 18 representatives from the Provincial Civil Protection Commissions. Similar workshops will be conducted in other participating Member States.

Contact information

In Luanda: Keita Sugimoto, Programme Manager, keita.sugimoto@undp.org

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