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EAC at the 6th Africa Regional Platform and 5th High Level Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction in Mauritius


East African Community Secretariat; Arusha, Tanzania; 26 November 2016:

The 6th Africa Regional Platform (AfRP) on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) concluded over the weekend in Mauritius. It was organized by the African Union and United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and co-hosted by the SADC and the Government of Mauritius. The East African Community was represented both at the Experts segment and in the High Level Ministerial Session by Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana, the Director for Productive Sectors.

The AfRP is a biennial forum that brings together African Member States, intergovernmental organizations and development partners to review progress in the implementation of the continental and global disaster risk reduction frameworks.

The 6th AfRP on DRR is the first continental meeting on DRR organized after the adoption of the Sendai framework on DRR by UN member states in Sendai, Japan in March 2015. The Framework provides a critical strategy for building resilience and addressing the impact of disasters representing a serious threat to millions of people in Africa and across the world. The 6th AfRP was a concrete opportunity for Africa to set up a functional path to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable communities in Africa. The Platform also enabled delegates sharing of good practices, success stories and lessons learnt with a view to enhancing coordination, increasing awareness, and mobilizing commitments to disaster risk reduction across Africa. 

The outcome of the 6th Africa Platform on DRR is an Africa Statement of DRR, the Mauritius Declaration on continental commitment and a revised Programme of Action on DRR for Africa.

During the Experts segment, Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana was a panelist under the theme: “Risk governance to showcase the status of EAC in implementing the Sendai Framework and the role of the DRR Act in achieving priority two of the Sendai Framework - Enhancing Risk governance”. Mr. Havugimana further presented during the Ministerial Session the EAC Position Paper and Commitment in the implementation of the Sendai Framework. The Statement was a summary of discussions held by all EAC delegations during their session as a REC. Below is the East African Community Statement:-

6th Session of the AfRP on DRR, 22-26 Nov Mauritius

Statement of the East African Community

Preamble

  1. The East African Community Secretariat wishes to congratulate the Government and the People of the Republic of Mauritius for the excellent hosting and the reception accorded to all delegates during the 6th Africa Regional Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction and management here in Mauritius.
  2. East Africa Community also wishes the African Union Commission and the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction and Partners success in the on-going preparations for the forthcoming World Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction Scheduled for May 2017 in Cancun, Mexico.
  3. East African Community also wishes to recognize with appreciation the continued support on implementing Disaster Risk Reduction Programme at the sub-regional level provided to the Regional Economic Communities through the Africa Regional Office, in particular the extension of Technical Assistance in form of Technical Advisor to the East African Community Risk Reduction and Management Unit.

Where are we? What are the challenges? And what are our future plans?

  1. EAC has made significant progress in strengthening the Disaster Risk Management capacities and made some milestone achievements, key among of them being the East African Community Disaster Risk Reduction Act, 2016 and the Climate Change Vulnerability Impact Assessment Study.
  2. I am pleased to inform you that the aforesaid Act was passed by the 4th Session of the 5th Assembly held in Arusha on 10th March, 2016, paving the way for the region to take necessary disaster preparedness, management, and protection and mitigation measures as well as in handling disasters in a more co-ordinated manner.
  3. The Act is currently under consideration by Partner States officials and will be assented to during the 18th Ordinary Heads of State Summit scheduled to take place early next year.
  4. Under the Impact Vulnerability Assessment study, Climate Hot spots maps have been prepared and the EAC Sectoral Council on Environment and Natural Resources Management adopted the results.
  5. East African Community is in the process of Building a Climate Information Network and User Interface to respond to the needs of priority stakeholders. Four thematic areas have been identified a) Agriculture & food security; b) water resources & hydro climatic disasters; c) weather and climate; d) land cover, land use change and ecosystems.
  6. We have started the process by designing a regional climate information network through collaborative partnerships with other regional organizations such as FEWS NET, RCMRD/SERVIR, and ICPAC with support from USAID.
  7. Last but not least, EAC has established a dedicated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Unit under its structure at the EAC Secretariat under the Direct Supervision of the Secretary General. The Unit reports to the Council of Ministers through the Secretary General.
  8. The unit will play a key role in the implementation of the East African Community Disaster Risk Reduction Act and the implementation of the Sendai Framework in the Region

However, besides the achievements, there are still Challenges, which include the following:

  1. Partner States are at different levels in Disaster Risk Reduction Legislation, which complicates the harmonisation process.
  2. Lack of resources to support: (i) the integration of Disaster Risk Reduction into education curriculum; (ii) Development of regional emergency response plans; (iii) Development of web portal for depositing Disaster Risk Reduction and other related emergencies; (iv) the operationalization of the established Disaster Risk Reduction Unit at the EAC Secretariat; and (v) strengthening and harmonizing existing regional early warning systems. Other challenges include:
  3. Limited budget allocation to Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Programme at both regional and national levels.
  4. Out-dated disaster maps
  5. Lack of harmonised mechanisms and coordination in addressing transboundary disasters.
  6. Climate variability, which is impacting key sectors including water, agriculture, health, wildlife and tourism, Energy and infrastructure.

What are our futures plans?

  1. The East African Community commits to implement its Disaster Risk Reduction Law as soon as it is assented to and in line with the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction. In this regard, the EAC priorities will be the following:
    i. Strengthen existing institutional capacities and set up new institutions established under the Act by 2018.
    ii. Review the EAC DRR and Management Strategy 2012-2016 and plan of action in accordance with the aligned African Programme of Action by 2017.
    iii. Update disaster maps and map out disasters evacuation centres by 2018.
    iv. Ensure DRR Programmes are people-centred.
    v. Adopt best practice such as the “Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (EcoDRR) Management approach” for reducing disaster risks, and
    vi. Harmonising mechanisms and coordination for transboundary hazards.

In conclusion

  1. EAC further reiterates its commitment to create the necessary conducive and enabling environment to strengthen resilience of communities to disasters to ensure sustainable development and poverty eradication, and to integrate, as appropriate both disaster risk reduction and building of resilience into policies, plans and programmes.
  2. Therefore, the East African Community calls upon the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the United Nations Office for disaster Reduction, the World Bank and all our partners, to join EAC in walking the talk in order to have more actions to support the communities that have entrusted us to serve them.


- ENDS -

For more information, please contact:

Mr Owora Richard Othieno
Head, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 784 835021
Email: OOthieno [at] eachq.org

 

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

 

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