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 today to discuss ways to make their communities and citizens safer.
Over 700,000 people in Africa have been killed, and more than 300 million others affected, over the past 30 years by more than 1,800 disasters, according to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
The second Africa Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction brings together more than 170 delegates representing government, regional economic communities, donors, academia, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to discuss an issue that is 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,” says Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Participants at the three-day meeting will 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 are expected to define mechanisms and identify resources to help implement the African Strategy and Programme of Action, prioritizing investments that will contribute to making schools, hospitals and cities safer against disasters.
Ms. Wahlström noted that regional mechanisms such as the African Strategy and the Programme of Action are the best tools to address new challenges and avoid disasters on the continent, which is likely to be more affected by climate-related hazards in the future.
The event, organized 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, organized from 12 to 16 April by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Kenyan Government and the AU Commission.