The Roots of African Resilience (RoAR) redefines multi-sectoral, people-centred resilience strategies – AUC roundtable

October 11, 2023

Bishoftu, 3 October 2023 – Despite substantial investments in resilience-building initiatives over the past two decades, the African continent continue to face multiple challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, insecurity, extreme weather and climate change, violent extremism and ongoing conflicts. These challenges pose significant threats to vulnerable nations and communities and threaten to reverse progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aspirations set in Agenda 2063.

In response to these pressing issues, the African Union Commission (AUC) convened technical interdepartmental roundtable consultations and review of the Roots of African Resilience (RoAR) research findings in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, from 1 to 3 October 2023.

The research represents a collaborative effort between AUC and the UNDP Resilience Hub in Nairobi, in partnership with the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and has received support from NORCAP. The primary objective is to redefine the concept of resilience within the African context, identify dimensions of resilience relevant to the African context, and develop guidance on operationalizing and measuring resilience on the continent.

The AUC interdepartmental roundtable brought together the Departments of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE); Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI), Infrastructure and EnergyPolitical Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development (HHS), Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD), Directorate of Women, Gender and Youth (WGYD) and the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

On behalf of Harsen Nyambe, Director of Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy, AUC, Gatkuoth Kai, Technical Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction, stated: "RoAR is aimed at re-examining the concept of resilience and its critical dimensions in the African context. The increasing number of transboundary disasters caused by natural hazards confirms the IPCC reports that such disasters will continue to increase in magnitude and frequency."

"With my colleagues from different AUC departments coming together, and with UNDP's financial and technical support, we hope to forge a unified African agenda for resilience-building with a people-centred approach," he added.

The roundtable consultations aimed at reviewing and enhancing the proposed components and dimensions of the resilience paper and sought to refine the concepts to better align with the specific characteristics and needs of the African context. Additionally, the roundtable  facilitated discussions on the practical application of the RoAR approach, including its utility in identifying resilience priorities and measuring progress at the national level.


We've shared extensive knowledge, ideas, research findings, strategies and approaches related to resilience in Africa and explored ways of leveraging existing knowledge. Hearing insights from different departments about how resilience impacts their areas of expertise has been enlightening. The RoAR holds great potential in achieving the Agenda 2063 aspirations.
Luthenya Kabelo, Housing and Human Settlement expert, AUC.

As the discussions went on, adopting a people-centred approach became evident. "This roundtable is an opportunity to discuss how we want to recognize diversity, recognizing that there are different visions about what's ideal from one community to another, allowing each community to be part of envisioning what they value as central to their resilient future. So we should be looking at what tells us we're collectively moving along the right path," said Ronald Jackson, Global Head of the Disaster Risk Reduction, Recovery for Building Resilience Team (DRT), UNDP.

Gujba Harouna Kachala, Senior Energy Advisor at the AUC, highlighted the holistic nature of the RoAR approach to resilience, emphasizing the unprecedented recognition of synergies across various sectors. He pointed out the significant interconnections revealed by the five dimensions discussed during the workshop.

It's true to say that infrastructure can improve resilience, but that we also need to enhance the resilience of infrastructure.
Gujba Harouna Kachala, Senior Energy Advisor at the AUC

The research findings will support the AUC, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and Member States, in developing comprehensive short- and long-term effective resilience programmes, policies and strategies, and measure progress at the national level.

"We will continue to support the AU in its work towards development and resilience-building in Africa. We also need to remember that citizens know how to build their resilience. And our role is to support them. We need to work with and invest in them," Zeynu Ummer, Manager a.i of UNDP Resilience Hub for Africa, stated.

Discussions focused on enhancing Africa's resilience in key areas: social, economic, environmental, governance and infrastructure. The AUC roundtable concluded with a shared vision and a commitment to finalizing the AUC RoAR Common Guideline for Resilience, underscoring the significance of multi-sectoral, muti-hazard, multi-scale and multi-stakeholderapproach to resilience-building to ensure progress toward the Africa We Want.