- African governments are set to adopt new mechanisms and strategies to reduce the risks of disaster hits on the continent. A newly adopted programme seeks to make places such as schools, hospitals and clinics and African cities safer against disasters.
This was agreed as delegates from 42 countries in Africa, which along with Asia is the most vulnerable continent to disasters, kicked off a United Nations-backed meeting in Nairobi yesterday to discuss ways to make their communities and citizens safer.
Over the past 30 years, over 700,000 people in Africa have been killed and more than 300 million others affected by more than 1,800 disasters, according to fresh statistics from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
The second Africa Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction brought together more than 170 delegates representing government, regional economic communities, donors, academia, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to discuss an issue that is seen as vital to the continent's future.
"As the 2009 Global Assessment Report on disaster risk reduction indicates, people's exposure to disasters is growing at a faster rate than risk reducing capacities are being strengthened," said Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction. One of the main reasons behind this fact is Africa's fast population growth, and increased density in population in risk areas.
Participants at the three-day meeting were set to discuss and adopt an updated version of the Programme of Action for the Implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and concrete measures for the period 2006-2015, as well as specific areas of interventions, expected results and measurable indicators to monitor progress.
They were expected to define mechanisms and identify resources to help implement the African Strategy and Programme of Action, prioritising investments that will contribute to making cities safer against disasters.
Ms Wahlström noted that regional mechanisms such as the African Strategy and the Programme of Action were the best tools to address new challenges and avoid disasters on the continent, which was said to be likely to be more affected by climate-related hazards such as droughts, flooding and storms in the future.
The event, organised by the African Union Commission, the government of Kenya and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), in collaboration with the World Bank, takes place in parallel with the First Ministerial Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa, also taking place from 12 to 16 April.
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