Disasters in sub-Saharan Africa are increasing in frequency, severity and impacts. On average, almost two disasters of significant proportions are recorded every week in the region since 2000. Few of these ever hit the global headlines but they silently erode the capacities of Africans to survive or prosper. Water, weather and climate hazards dominate the disaster profile of Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting, on average, around 12.5 million people per year.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, multiple and inter-dependent forms of vulnerability have the potential to transform even minor hazard events into human disasters. Around 400 million people in the region live below the poverty line, and 200 million are considered to be under-nourished. Income poverty and food insecurity play a major role in land degradation, as the poor and hungry are forced to over-exploit natural resources to meet their immediate needs for survival.
Disaster risks have continued to increase in this region mainly due to inadequate early warning systems and preparedness, inadequate land use planning and building codes. This has led to a situation whereby low level hazards are magnified by high level of vulnerability resulting into increased number of people exposed to hazards.
The main African framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted at the 10th meeting of the Africa Ministerial Conference of the Environment (AMCEN) in 2004.
With UNISDR support, the African Union Commission (AUC) then formulated and endorsed the Programme of Action for the Implementation of the African Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (2005-2010) at the First African Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Addis Ababa in 2005.
At the Second Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which was jointly organized by AUC and UNISDR Africa, a substantive revision reflecting current gaps, including integration of climate change concerns into disaster risk reduction, and extending the time-frame to 2015, thus aligning it with the HFA, was adopted along with a Ministerial Declaration.
Following the recommendations of the Declaration, AUC in collaboration with UNISDR reconstituted the African Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction (AWGDRR) in order to guide and coordinate the implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy and its Programme of Action. The Africa Working Group on DRR first constituted in 2005, has subsequently been reconstituted and held its inaugural meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in March 2011.