Three-Day Meeting In Kenya Examines Ways To Bolster Disaster Preparedness Across Africa

To succeed in efforts to reduce poverty in Africa, countries need to make disaster preparedness a priority in national development plans, Margareta Wahlstrom, U.N. deputy emergency relief coordinator, said Wednesday during the Second Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Africa, the Daily Nation reports.

“Annual floods account for huge budget costs on disaster response in many countries, frustrating efforts towards the realisation of Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline, [Wahlstrom] noted, urging governments to take more proactive steps to minimise on the damage and cost of disasters that have been on a steady rise,” the newspaper writes (Cheboi, 4/14).

Experts from 42 African countries gathered for the three-day conference, in Nairobi, Kenya, “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,” U.N. News Centre writes (4/14).

“[M]ore than 170 delegates representing government, regional economic communities, donors, academia, U.N. agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs),” were in attendance “to discuss an issue that is seen as vital to the continent’s future,” Afrol News reports (4/15).

The group is “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,” U.N. News Centre writes.

“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,” Wahlstrom said.

According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, more than 1,800 disasters during the course of the past 30 years in Africa have resulted in the deaths of more than 700,000 people and affected 300 million others, the news service writes (4/14).

The Daily Nation article details the economic impact of disasters on countries in Africa, which “alongside Asia, is the most vulnerable continent to disasters and is likely to be more affected by climate-related hazards in the future,” according to the newspaper (4/14).

“The event, organised by the African Union Commission, the government of Kenya and the U.N. 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,” Afrol News adds (4/15).

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