Planning COVID-19 recovery in Sahel countries: Officials and academics learn to assess needs, effects and impacts

December 7, 2020



By working closely with Stellenbosch University and the PeriPeri U network of African universities, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) strives to create, through the Sahel Resilience [1] and PDNA Roll Out III [2] projects financed by Sweden and the European Union (EU) respectively, a regional pool of trainers and a cadre of governments’ practitioners in COVID-19 Recovery Needs Assessment (CRNA) and Recovery Planning. Jointly developed by the EU and UNDP, the CRNA methodology was for the first time introduced in an online training to 37 lecturers, master and Ph.D. students from higher education institutions (17-20 November) and 44 government officials from seven countries in the Western Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, alongside personnel from the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS, and members of the Africa Youth Advisory Board for Disaster Risk Reduction (01-04 December).

“Successive and concurrent disasters in the Sahel region remind us that for sustainable development, we must take into consideration multiple risks; we are now concerned about the pandemic covid-19, but we must also consider conflicts, climate change, amongst others risks,” said Ulla Andren, Head of Development Cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa at the Swedish Embassy, in Addis Ababa. “Disasters cannot be avoided, so we must be able to prepare for them, reduce their impact, and see to it that there is a quick recovery,” she added.

“Building capacity within the field of disaster risk reduction is at the heart of the PeriPeri U network, where we conduct research, learning and teaching and inform policy—all in service of society. With partners such as UNDP and the Government of Sweden, we able to do so much more, as evident in this training in COVID-19 Recovery Needs Assessment and Planning,” Dr. Nico Elema, Manager, Centre for Collaboration in Africa at Stellenbosch University, underlined.

The pandemic has been putting to test the strength and adaptability of existing disaster risk management systems and governance mechanisms to guide COVID-19 recovery (with a strong focus on disaster risk reduction across sectors) as well as their ability to manage ongoing and future concurrent disasters.

“UNDP remains committed to strengthening regional and national capacities for disaster recovery and risk reduction and ensuring that countries are prepared to effectively address the multiple and intersecting risks that affect the population in Africa today,” Cecilia Aipira, Disaster Risk Reduction Regional Advisor for Africa in the United Nations Development Programme, said.

As the world races to find a way to halt the pandemic, societies and nations are coming to grips with the longer-term economic implications of the pandemic, such as their ability to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

“This training was one such initiative where national governments, regional institutions and the academia were equipped with technical know-how in assessing the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 and in developing appropriate recovery strategies and plans that contribute to building resilient societies,” Ms. Aipira concluded.

About CRNA

Under the auspices of the joint declaration on Post-Crisis Assessments and Recovery Planning [3], the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), the European Union (EU) and the World Bank (WB) have collaborated to promote harmonized post‐crisis frameworks and tools to support post-disaster needs assessments and recovery planning.

The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) procedural and technical guidelines and the Disaster Recovery Framework (DRF) guide have been used to support government-led efforts to estimate the needs for recovery after a disaster and plan and implement recovery strategies to help rebuild the physical, social and human capital of disaster-affected communities.

As the lead partner agency for capacity building in PDNA and DRFs, UNDP in partnership with the EU and World Bank has also used these guidelines to train staff members of the three organizations as well as government officials to conduct assessments and develop recovery plans. In the context of COVID-19, EU and UNDP led the process of preparing a Guidance Note to adopt the PDNA methodology for assessing the socio-economic impact of COVID-19.

The Guidance Note was developed with inputs from UN partner agencies and EU Directorates to address methodology for sector assessment. These tools are adapted to meet the specific requirements of the pandemic. The methodology builds on preexisting partnerships, brings in global expertise from across partners, does a macro, meso and micro level analysis and develops recovery needs with costs.

Find the Guidance Note here

Summary of the CRNA methodology here


Globalization has anchored the systemic and interconnected nature of disaster risk in a world facing the unprecedented challenge of a climate emergency and a full-fledged pandemic. COVID-19 has been a stark reminder of the urgent need to jointly address the multiple risks that arise in fragile contexts such as the Sahel that is caught up in the vicious cycle of humanitarian crises against a backdrop of climate-related hazards, protracted conflict and poverty.

Recognizing that there is a critical need to develop the long-term capacity of institutions in resilience-building to support West African communities to break away from the vicious cycle of humanitarian crises as well as to restore pathways to sustainable development, Sweden and UNDP last year launched the 3-year Sahel Resilience Project with an overall budget of US$7.5 million. The geographical focus of the project is on seven countries in the Western Sahel and Lake Chad Basin—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its wide-ranging impacts on populations and economies, the Sahel Resilience Project has reprogrammed funds to build capacities of regional actors, Member States and other stakeholders in effectively responding to and recovering from COVID-19 and other crises, by building their skills in the use of tools and approaches for systematic needs assessments and recovery planning.

The PDNA Roll Out III project was launched by the European Union and UNDP in July 2020 with an overall budget of US$2.0 Million to be implemented over 3 years. The main objective of this initiative is to assist national and regional stakeholders to improve their abilities to prepare, assess, plan, implement and sustain crisis (disasters, conflict and epidemics) recovery and peacebuilding activities. To this end, the project will build on the results of the two prior projects on PDNA Roll out, ensuring sustainability of the PDNA and DRF as approaches and tools to formulate comprehensive recovery strategies.

The Sahel project fosters coordinated action by regional institutions in charge of disaster risk reduction—the African Union Commission, ECOWAS, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, UN Women, the specialized agency AGRHYMET and the university consortium PeriPeri U.

Established in 2006, PeriPeri U is a partnership of African universities that spans across the continent and is committed to building local disaster risk related capacity. Its Secretariat is hosted by Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape Province, South Africa.

[1] UNDP, 2019. Strengthening capacities for disaster risk reduction and adaptation for Resilience in the Sahel Region: fostering risk-informed solutions for sustainable development

[2] UNDP Global Project. Strengthening Capacities for Crisis Assessment and Recovery Planning - PDNA Roll Out III

[3] EU, UNDG and World Bank-Joint Declaration on Post-Crisis Assessment and Recovery Planning, signed on 5th September 2008. The UNDP Administrator signed the Declaration on behalf of the UNDG.