Strive to act as one in the face of the pandemic and other disasters
October 24, 2022
An in-depth assessment of the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 produced by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) delves into how to better recover from the pandemic, and within that, the crucial role of disaster risk governance in addressing vulnerabilities in Sahelian countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.
At a launch event in Dakar on 24 October, which H.E. Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, attended, the researchers from Data-Pop Alliance and ADE | Evidence for Better Policy provided national, regional, and international policymakers and civil societies with solid information and working hypotheses to address the fault lines once again exposed and exacerbated by the crisis in their stabilization and recovery efforts to building back better.
"The increasing frequency of disasters, whether natural or man-made, highlights fragilities and inequalities; it underscores the urgency of acting in a united manner," Professor Sarr said. "Interestingly, women have unique opportunities to play a critical role as always the ones who provide for the household economy in times of crisis," Professor Sarr underscored.
Crisis experts across the continent have been striving to enhance risk management of biological and natural hazards for decades, recognizing that disasters can wipe out years of development progress and thousands of lives in just a few minutes.
"There are some important lessons we take away from the multiple pandemics that have characterized Africa's response to disasters and pandemics: one of which is that preparation is everything," said the Regional Director for Africa at UNDP, Ahunna Eziakonwa, in a video address.
"Years of dealing with epidemics in various parts of the continent have turned into assets for front-line responders. And as we saw, well-honed outreach mechanisms were quickly repurposed to tackle the pandemic. Still, we also found that we must continue our investment in improving disaster risk management," Ms. Eziakonwa added.
The Sendai Framework at the midway point
In 2015, African nations and all UN member states signed on to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – a 15-year plan to build disaster resilience and its ambitious action plan.
Presented the same day in Dakar, a second study jointly undertaken by the African Union, UNDP, and ODI look at the progress against Sendai targets and the African Union Programme of Action in West Africa and Sahelian countries. The report provides more than 200 tailored recommendations to guide decision-makers through agile and effective responses that address preexisting fault lines, inefficiencies, and fragilities. They call for placing disaster risk management and reduction as the centerpiece of development decision-making at local, national, and regional levels.
Continued risk creation due to development processes and the compounding impact of climate variability and change means that accelerated action on disaster risk reduction is urgently required if the targets set out within the Sendai Framework are to be achieved in the remaining eight years.
The two flagship studies launched in Dakar on 24 October have been undertaken under the auspices of the Sahel Resilience Project, which is implemented by UNDP in the Western Sahel and Lake Chad Basin region with support from Sweden and is co-chaired by the AUC and ECOWAS.
Socio-economic Impact of COVID-19 and the Role of Disaster Risk Governance in Western Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, co-commissioned by ECOWAS and UNDP
Disaster Risk Reduction in West Africa and the Sahelian countries: A review of progress, co-commissioned by the African Union Commission and UNDP
For more information
Reshmi Theckethil, Sahel Resilience Project Manager, UNDP, firstname.lastname@example.org
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