Floodings and natural disasters, challenges for West and Central Africa
From 5 to 7 May 2010, government experts and natural disaster management specialists will review the consequences of the 2009 flooding season in the region, map out strategies for the coming rains, and discuss coastal erosion, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. Urban and sea rescue, disaster assessment and coordination, and regional humanitarian and risk reduction policies will also be addressed during the conference, whose opening ceremony was attended by the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, José Maria Neves.
Already faced with chronic humanitarian challenges, West and Central Africa has been confronted over the past few years with recurrent floods and others disasters. Floods - the most common disaster - have affected more than 1.8 million people since 2007. In 2009, numerous West African cities, including some located in the Sahel region, were hit by torrential rains causing deaths, loss of cattle and the destruction of socio-economic infrastructures. In September 2009, a 10-hour-long downpour hit Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, killing 8 people, affecting 150,000 others, and destroying the main hospital and other important infrastructures. Thunderstorms and rising sea levels are also regional threats: Abidjan, Conakry, Dakar, Monrovia and Lagos are the cities most at risk from these climatic phenomena.
"Preparing for natural disasters requires unprecedented political commitment as well as financial and human resources investment in order to sustain ongoing efforts in the fight against poverty", declared Hervé Ludovic de Lys, Head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for West and Central Africa (OCHA).
Organized every year jointly by OCHA and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) since 2007, this regional gathering places great emphasis on early warning mechanisms and preparedness measures, two factors that are key in anticipating potential risks.
"A strengthened coordination between government institutions, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and UN agencies in preparing and responding to disasters will allow a more efficient use of resources, enable rescue efforts to reach communities in time, and will save lives", underlined Youcef Ait-Chelouche, IFRC Disaster management Coordinator for West and Central Africa.
For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:
Yvon Edoumou, OCHA-ROWCA, +221 33 869 8515, mobile +221 77 569 9653, email@example.com
Moustapha Diallo, IFRC, +221.77.500.1004, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angelita Mendy OCHA-ROWCA, +221 77.450.6181, email@example.com