NAIROBI, The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Government of Italy, have officially signed an agreement to boost disaster risk management in Africa and strengthen multi-hazard early warning systems across the continent.
UNDRR and the African Union Commission will implement the project a multi-hazard early warning system (EWS) in partnership with the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD), the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and several Member States to implement a continental impact-based EWS in the African Union’s headquarters. This builds on the previous allocation of EUR 1 million this year from Italy for complementary actions in the Horn of Africa.
Speaking prior to the Africa Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction where members were briefed on the project, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR, Mami Mizutori, said: “We need to move from managing disasters to managing risk if we are to prevent disaster losses. Multi-hazard early warning systems are a central component of that shift”. “We thank the Government of Italy for its commitment and support and the African Union Commission for its ongoing collaboration in this ambitious transboundary approach to disaster risk management,” said Ms Mizutori.
“This is a crucial operation that was long overdue, and we can only appreciate the kind gesture and generous support of the Italian Government and thank UNDRR for working with AUC in initiating this project,” said H.E Ambassador Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission.
“The financial contribution of 3 million Euro to UNDRR for the implementation of the program on Multi-hazard Early Warning and Preparedness for Africa that I recently authorized, witnesses the importance that we attach to the partnership with the AU and to the humanitarian dimension of disaster risk reduction” underlined the Italian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emanuela C. Del Re.
The implementation of a continental EWS in Africa will bring together sub-regional and national actors to form a coordinated mechanism to prevent, prepare and respond to disasters caused by weather-related hazards affecting the continent.
Under the initiative, UNDRR will work with the African Union Commission to create a fully equipped 24/7 situation room at the African Union premises connected to the regional and member state centres. The situation room will facilitate the exchange, monitoring and analysis of risk events. It will also promote and implement Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for impact-based early warning and early action, through the identification of roles and responsibilities, as well as modalities to exchange and analyze risk data.
The MyDewtra platform, an open source monitoring system developed by the Italian Civil Protection department and endorsed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), will be facilitate data exchange among partners at different levels, informing decision-makers and international communities on ongoing and potential future hazards.
Other expected outcomes will include capacity building activities for disaster risk reduction (DRR) practitioners, to strengthen existing monitoring and forecasting capabilities regarding weather-related hazards and their impacts, to trigger early and more effective preparedness and response actions, contributing to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’s Target (g) to substantially increase the availability of and access to multi‑hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030.
UNDRR will work with the African Union Commission to implement activities featured as part of the Africa Road Map for “Improving the Availability, Access and Use of Disaster Risk Information for Early Warning and Early Action, including in the Context of Transboundary Risk Management ”, a direct outcome of the European Union 10th European Development Fund and Organization of African Caribbean Pacific States-funded initiative completed in 2020. This Government of Italy supported initiative will also support Regional Economic Communities and Member States by enhancing coordination and sharing of disaster risk information.
This Africa Early Warning Road Map has been identified as a key priority. This project builds on synergies with ongoing UNDRR initiatives in Africa such as ongoing activities funded by DG ECHO in Malawi and Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the CREWS intitiative, and complements this week’s announcement by the Government of Sweden to establish a Horn of Africa Partnership for Early Warning and Early Action with UNDRR, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) as partners. A cell will be established at the IGAD Climate Predication and Application Centre in Nairobi to ensure that sub-regional multi-hazard early warning efforts will be communicate with and be augmented by activities of the continental activities carried by the African Union situation room.
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