Reducing disaster losses in the Sahel: road maps for data harmonization

Posted May 10, 2022

© Hamadou Adama/UNDP

Representatives from West African countries met in Dakar on 26–29 April to work on harmonizing disaster risk and impact data in the Sahel region, where an estimated 29 million people needed life-saving humanitarian assistance last year due to climate events exacerbated by poverty and fragility, and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Back in their respective countries*, some 60 participants from academia, disaster risk management and statistical agencies and the United Nations will use the road maps they developed to support the collection, analysis and dissemination of disaster impact data for development based on the understanding of the multiple risks facing the region. 

"Data on disaster risks must be better reflected in investment and development planning to preserve development gains and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," said Njoya Tikum, Manager of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Sub-regional Hub in Dakar.

To strengthen data availability on disaster loss and damage in the Sahel, UNDP builds on partnerships with all relevant actors - government agencies, intergovernmental bodies, specialized information providers, academia, civil society, and communities. 

Under the Swedish-funded Sahel Resilience Project, UNDP has joined forces with the Niamey-based AGRHYMET Regional Centre, a specialized agency of the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel and includes thirteen countries in the sub-region. 

"Our role is to centralize the data collected at the national level, analyse and produce information related to climate and disaster risks to facilitate decision-making at the regional level," explained Prof. Atta Sanoussi, Deputy Director-General of AGRHYMET. "Given the diversity of databases and tools for disaster risk management in countries, regionally and internationally, it has become important to harmonize approaches in a regional information platform," he added.

The proposed regional platform will help strengthen regional cooperation and the national skills of member states to reduce disaster risks and the impacts of climate change.

Capacity building of all actors in charge of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Sahel  will enable governments and regional organizations to build effective databases on disaster loss and damage and regional and national information platforms.

* Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal are partner countries to the Sahel Resilience Project, which the African Union, ECOWAS, and UNDP co-chair