East African countries join 'Making cities resilient' campaign - AU calls for integration of disaster risk reduction into national planning

 

Arusha, 14 July 2011 - These new additions to the Campaign signatories follows on the heels of 20 urban councils and three municipal councils from local governments in nine provinces in Sri Lanka who also signed up for the 'Making Cities Resilient' campaign on 5 July in Colombo. The number of cities who have now signed  the campaign is around 750.

“The East African Community (EAC) is becoming more and more exposed to natural and man-made hazards, noted Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, the EAC Deputy Secretary General. “We are taking more from the environment than we are giving back. Even more, the growing urban population is accelerating risks and poses a great challenge for authorities to tackle.”

The addition of the three East African signatories comes in the wake of severe drought warnings and threats of famine across large parts of east Africa, and during a meeting of a group of experts and policy makers who have been engaged since 13 June with finding a common strategy within the overall framework of the Africa Regional Strategy to tackle disaster prevention through strengthening of national and regional risk reduction platforms in the East African region. The workshop meeting is schedule to end today.

“Big cities are overwhelmed while the smaller ones are getting bigger quickly. We are ready to invest locally, with all stakeholders in risk reduction to prepare the future cities for the sake of future generations and sustainable development,” said Gaudence Lyimo, the Mayor of Arusha. “It is time to engage in policy dialogue with national authorities on the role of local governance in reducing risks," he added.

The participants at the workshop are mainly from East Africa and represent various institutions including the Africa Union Commission (AUC), EAC member states, the Prime Minister’s Office in the Republic of Tanzania, International Federation of the Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Peri Peri U, Mayors and representatives of local authorities from Arusha, Bujumbura, Moshi and Kisumu, the World Bank and United Nations’ agencies. The forum aims to connect these key risk reduction players in an effort to strengthen national and regional mechanisms to coordinate and enhance partnerships for the implementation of the Africa disaster risk reduction plan of action.

Representing the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Almami Dampha pointed out, “We need to integrate risk reduction into our national planning in order to move this agenda forward. But for this to happen, a multi stakeholder approach is key.”

In view of the negative impacts associated with climate change the forum emphasized the need for an integrated approach to policy and programming for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation (CCA). Dialogue between climate scientists and disaster risk managers is therefore crucial in order to anticipate and effectively response to these disasters.

“Climate change impact in Africa has led to water scarcity and food insecurity. Ninety-six per cent of the region depends on rain fed agriculture. Therefore CCA strategies should be part of poverty reduction programmes and sustainable development plans,” said Youcef Ait-Chellouche, Deputy Regional Coordinator for UNISDR Africa.

According to the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor, Julius Kabubi, modelling a disaster resilient EAC region based on the application of simple community-based disaster risk management tools is a fundamental. “A disaster risk reduction conceptual framework has been developed and will be discussed by all stakeholders in the region for adoption and implementation,” he emphasized.

The Extended programme of action for the implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for disaster management focuses on the substantial reduction of natural hazard impacts on African people and economies to facilitate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The meeting is being organized by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the East African Community (EAC) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Office for Africa in Arusha.

The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015.
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