International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Regional Office for West & Central Africa (OCHA ROWCA)
Fifth regional consultation on floods and disaster preparedeness opens in Cotonou, Benin
Cotonou, Benin – Reducing the risk of natural disasters should be at the heart of the national programs and policies of the West African Countries, which should strengthen their capacity to face risk and invest in prevention and preparedness, Kazimiro Rudolph Jocondo, the Head of the Regional Office for West and Central Africa of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-ROWCA), said today at the opening session of the Fifth Regional Consultation on floods and disaster preparedness.
Gabriel Achade, President of the Benin’s Red Cross, appealed to an “active solidarity” to face crises that “create social tensions, endanger intercommunity and international relations and weaken the economic environment”.
The three-day annual meeting is organized in Benin economic capital Cotonou, which was particularly affected by last year’s flooding. Representatives of both Civil Defense and the national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of Western Africa as well as Experts from specialized agencies will look at the ways and opportunities to strengthen national Government capacities to prepare and cope with natural disasters in the region. The latest, mostly flooding, have affected several millions of people over the last few years.
While we cannot eliminate the risk of natural disasters, which spares no country, it is important to mitigate their devastating consequences, Rudolph Jocondo added.
UN Resident Coordinator in Benin Nardos Bekele-Thomas, appealed to unity in defining strategies, operating actions and decision based on lessons learnt from the exceptionally important flooding that affected Benin in 2010; The Fifth Consultation offers an opportunity to “talk about our concerns, share our responsibilities and discuss potential solutions” to help coping with the various natural disasters West African countries are exposed to.
Benin Interior Minister Benoît Dègas invited participants to «actively take part to exchanges », adding that West African people expect a lot from this kind of meetings.
Achade said that dynamics generated by both training and adoption of practical measures such as table-top exercises and Contingency plans would also help mobilize resources aimed at strengthening populations’ resilience.
Colonel Alberto Fernandes, Chair of the Steering Committee of the regional committee of disaster management in West Africa (GECEAO) presented the work of the structure, which was established by the Fourth Consultation held in Praia (Cap Vert) last year.
Participants to the Consultation will discuss the lessons learnt from floods in 2010 through a series of case studies; look into the available tools for disaster assessment, common terminology and typology; review variousDisaster Risk Reduction initiatives; discuss Civil-military coordination in natural disasters; and take action on the GECEAO 2011-2012 Action Plan.
The Consultation is organized jointly by OCHA and the International Federation of the Red Cross with the support of ECOWAS and the Government of Benin.
For further information, please call: Rémi Dourlot, OCHA-ROWCA, +221 33 869 8515, mobile +221 77 569 9653, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Moustapha Diallo, IFRC, +221.77.500.1004, email@example.com; Angelita Mendy OCHA-ROWCA, +221 77.450.6181,
firstname.lastname@example.org; Joel Ahofodji, PNUD, +229.970.707.34