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Published On: Thu, Mar 13th, 2014

On the Africa regional platform for disaster reduction

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By Adedoyin Adewumi

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has a great role to play as the 5th Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (AfRP) is billed to hold in Nigeria, in May 2014.

The aim of the platform is to identify key priorities and commitments for an African position for a post-2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

The AfRP is a joint programme of the United Nations (UN)’s Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the African Union (AU) Commission, and is the primary regional mechanism to support the implementation of DRR strategies and programmes at regional, sub-regional and national levels. It also monitors their progress and facilitates coordination and information sharing between governments, sub-regional organisations and UN agencies.

It a gathering of stakeholders from governments, inter-government regional organizations, bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors and others all sharing a common commitment to build the resilience of African communities and nations to disaster risk and adaptation to a changing climate.

It is a common knowledge that risks and vulnerabilities are beyond natural boundaries, hence often need to be addressed trans-boundarily. Regional platforms provide an opportunity to tackle these trans-boundary issues around disaster prevention and preparedness, provide leadership and direction and propose solutions to address disaster reduction and to build resilience of communities and nations.

DRR policies and institutional mechanisms do exist at various degree 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 DRR. Regional platforms for DRR are multi-stakeholder forums that reflect the commitment of governments to improve coordination and implementation of DRR activities while linking to international and national efforts. Inter-governmental collaboration is key to addressing DRR at a regional level and theses platforms provide a forum for all those engaged in DRR to showcase practical application for DRR, exchange experience and develop joint statements, strategies and action plans which guide decision makers and practitioners.

The 4th AfRP focused on the progress made at the national, sub-regional and regional levels in the implementation of the African Regional Strategy for DRR and its programmes for Action and the Hyogo Framework for Action. The platform also facilitated tools and mechanisms to accelerate implementation for frameworks and strategies and initiated dialogue on the post-2015 DRR framework.

Over 250 participants form over 45 countries were at the three-day meeting, which focused on six areas which included strengthening DRR on regional levels; outlining achievements and challenges faced at sub-regional level ranging from policy formulation and coordination to comprehensive DRR implementation; dealt with risk identification, monitoring and early warning; highlighted initiatives undertaken and recommendations for the future and at the end, it was also able to come up with recommendations which included integration of DRR into development and humanitarian agendas in a coordinated and multi-sectoral manner; situating DRR as part of the global sustainable development framework in revisiting the human development agenda; making progress in legislation and its conversion into adequately resourced programs to achieve progress like that which has been made on policy formulation; mainstreaming DRR into poverty reduction strategies and programmes; encouraging and getting as much political commitment as possible for making DRR a national priority and law and enhancing efforts to engage more with the private sector in DRR.

The DRR, as is often pointed out, is very essential for the development of any nation, once disaster strikes, it takes a toll on the people and the economy. Even though natural disasters are not preventable, mitigating them is very important in ensuring that people are affected to a lesser degree than if DRR was not in place.

Adedoyin Adewumi is of the group, Youths Against Disasters Initiative, Abuja

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