By Vincent Fung
GENEVA/NAIROBI, 24 January 2013 - Governments from over 50 countries in Africa will meet in Arusha, Tanzania from 13-15 February for the Fourth Africa Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (ARP) to address the challenges of building a disaster resilient society.
The Africa region is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is projecting economic growth of 5.25% for sub-Saharan Africa in 2013, a rate that places the region second only to Asia's booming economies and well above a world forecast of 3.6%.
As the countries in this blossoming region continue to develop, this impressive growth could be undermined by exposure to disaster risks and a changing climate. A recent statement "Raising the African Voice" at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the African Science Academies, claims that climate change will impact Africa more severely than any other region in the world and that severe weather events such as droughts and floods are on the increase.
"With global warming affecting agriculture and livelihoods in a continent where agriculture contributes 50% of total exports and 21% of total GDP, it is evident that long-term action must lead to sustainable development policies which take account of these challenges. Climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction and poverty reduction policies need to be integrated into the policies, budgets and planning of African countries and institutions," notes Pedro Basabe, head of UNISDR's regional office in Africa.
"Protecting African livelihoods requires international, regional and country approaches that recognize and act on the overlap of conflicts and severe weather hazards."
The Africa Regional Platform allows countries to highlight the progress they have made in implementing the Extended Programme of Action for the Implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (2006-2015) and to develop a regional position for the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, 19-23 May 2013 in Geneva.
The event will also be a major milestone in providing recommendations on the future of the Hyogo Framework for Action -- the 10-year international framework for reducing disaster risks and building community resilience which ends in 2015.
In addition to organizing the Africa Regional Platform back-to-back with the UNDP Drylands Drought Forum, UNISDR will also be organizing media training on disaster risk reduction (DRR). The two-day training program is planned for 11 and 13 February and will accommodate 12-15 journalists and twelve DRR focal points from the Africa region.
The Fourth African Regional Platform will bring together government, UN, and NGO representatives from countries in the region including Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.