Inclusive approach: Senegal's Minister of Women, Family and Children Ms Anta Sarr (centre) and Ms Wahlström (left) agreed that a wide range of engaged networks was needed to support effective disaster risk reduction.
DAKAR, 31 January 2014 –
The Prime Minister of Senegal has reiterated her country’s commitment to implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) during high level talks with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Prime Minister Aminata Touré said that Senegal’s international commitments were consistent with domestic priorities under the country’s Economic and Social Development Plan.
In the presence of nine of her key ministers, the Prime Minister told Special Representative Ms Margareta Wahlström that good governance and institutions were crucial to build resilience in the face of continued climate change.
“Our vulnerability to climatic hazards has harmed our economy. The drought that hit our country in the 1970s caused a delay in the development of agriculture, livestock and state investment for the country’s development and wellbeing,” the Prime Minister said.
Ms Wahlström, who is also the Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), praised Senegal’s efforts to build resilience, especially in the light of repeated recent flooding.
“There is a huge pressure for action. I think particularly the flooding issue is so critical ... because it's very acute,” said Ms Wahlström, who also met with mayors from coastal and riverside towns.
“Listening to the mayors, some of them were saying 'we are underwater ten months out of 12'. I think that says everything. That's acute and it's why the country is giving full attention and full priority to flooding. The quicker the cities are growing, the more acute the problem will become.”
Ms Wahlström’s visit was in support of a national effort to review national progress in implementing the HFA as well as consultations for the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
The review focused on, among other things, land use and planification, decentralisation policies that address disaster risk, as well as responsibility and accountability issues.
The UNISDR Head was particularly impressed with the engagement with a wide network of actors, including the private sector, mayors, women's groups, youth and universities.
“Senegal, like many other African countries have economies that are growing very fast. I believe there is a great interest to work on the field of disaster risk reduction by both the private and public sector,” said Ms Wahlström,
The Government has recently established a Ministry for Reconstruction and Flood Management to oversee a series of measures, including investment in flood protection levees and drainage systems, as well as the relocation of at-risk populations and changes in land use to agriculture practices to reduce water run-off.
The 1 billion Euro programme over 10 years, supported by the World Bank, was set up in the wake of major flooding in 2012. As a result, despite heavy rains, the country had no need to activate its crisis management plan, known as ‘ORSEC’, in 2013.
Prime Minister Touré said her country looked forward to increased cooperation with UNISDR to help build awareness among the population for “a better understanding and ownership of strategies to reduce disaster risk”.
Ms Wahlström’s visit comes ahead of the 5th Africa Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in Abuja, Nigeria, in May. The Platform is a major milestone in global consultations before the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Japan, at which a post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction will be agreed.