Disaster databases essential to reducing risk in Africa

Speakers at the 4th Africa Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, Dulce Chilundo, Mozambique's National Disaster Management Institute, and Tadesse Bekele,Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture.
 
By Denis McClean

ARUSHA, 14 February 2013 - Ethiopia is on course to build Africa's most comprehensive risk profile database by 2015 and today urged other countries on the continent to follow its example.

In a keynote address to the 4th Africa Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, Tadesse Bekele, Deputy Director in Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector of the Ministry of Agriculture, said that Ethiopia has carried out 100,000 household interviews representing a population of 35 million in 250 districts. It is on course to complete detailed risk profiling for all 750 districts by 2015.

"I would encourage all countries in Africa to follow Ethiopia's example in developing in-depth information systems based on nationwide risk profiling of disaster-affected communities. It is important to get out of the vicious circle of managing from crisis to crisis," he said.

Responding to questions from the audience, Mr. Bekele said disaster interventions are undermining communities' resilience and there was a need to switch support from response to long-term disaster risk management.

"Disaster risk profiles include 70 indicators which help you to easily identify which society is resilient and which is not. Disaster response creates dependency and erodes indigenous knowledge. We will update the disaster risk profiles every five years and every risk profile is validated by the community concerned to ensure correct targeting of support and assistance over time," he said.

In a wide-ranging discussion on moving from early warning to early action on disaster risk reduction, Mozambique's Dulce Chilundo, of the National Disaster Management Institute said the 2000 floods were the trigger for Mozambique to develop a national disaster loss data base which has become the foundation of the country's disaster risk reduction strategy.

She described the challenges of collating historical data from the 1960s onwards and distinguishing between those losses that were a result of conflict and those due to natural hazards.

Ms. Chilundo said the database had helped to reveal vulnerability and become the foundation for national disaster risk reduction policy helping to identify priorities for investments in critical infrastructure and exposed sectors. Work is continuing on refining the database and it has created greater political awareness.

Siham Mohammedahmed, Natural Resources Management Specialist, of the African Development Bank, announced that the African Development Bank (ADB) is creating a new fund which will allow disaster risk managers to apply directly to the ADB for financial support to improving the quality of climate information and dissemination to the public. The fund could also be used to investigate and improve records on historical disaster data.
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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