2023 RISK Award goes to an early warning system project in Africa

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
People at a river bank

GENEVA, 12 July 2023 – A project for a water resources early warning system in the Inkomati Basin, which is shared by South Africa with Mozambique and Eswatini, was announced today as the winner of the 2023 RISK Award. 

The €100,000 award went to the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) during a virtual ceremony hosted by the UN Office for Disaster Reduction (UNDRR) and the Munich Re Foundation, which is also the sponsor of the award. 

The aptly named non-profit is based in South Africa and was represented at the ceremony by its Executive Director, Dr. Sharon Pollard, who expressed her gratitude for the award.

“It offers us the opportunity to co-develop an early warning system with the communities most at risk.” 

The project is aimed at addressing risks such as water insecurity, floods and drought, and health-related risks from water pollution, particularly, E-Coli and arsenic. 

“These risks are likely to amplify under climate change and one of the things we noticed is that communities don't know about these risks,” said Dr. Pollard.

The award was welcomed by the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Secretary-General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Mr. Jagan Chapagain, who said:

“The climate crisis has become the number one threat facing humanity. Protecting people from the impacts of this crisis and strengthening communities to become more resilient is our top priority.  Today's risk award ceremony gives me hope because it highlights the intensified efforts of people across the planet, bringing their best ideas and innovations to making communities safer and more resilient to disasters."

Ms. Renate Bleich, Chair of the Munich Re Foundation, congratulated the winner and highlighted the significance of this year’s theme, which is in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Early Warnings for All initiative. 

“Together with UNDRR we decided that this year’s RISK Award would be taking place under the topic of climate resilience and early warning because there is still a large part of the world not covered by early warning.”

She noted that this year they had received 200 proposals from 72 countries, which is a record number.

Reacting also to the award announcement was Ms. Mami Mizutori, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, who thanked AWARD for being an inspirational example.

“Your work is a testament to the important role that non-profits play in reducing risks for the most vulnerable. We need more organizations like AWARD because we need to scale up our commitments and work and this can’t be done by governments alone,” said Ms. Mizutori.

 She also noted the significance of adopting an all-of-society approach to disaster prevention, as called for in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, where governments, businesses and civil society, all work together.

The RISK Award started in 2012 and is given to operational projects in the field of disaster risk reduction. The prize is awarded every two years based on the recommendation of an international jury. The endowment for the RISK Award is provided by the Munich Re Foundation.

For media requests, please contact: undrrcomms@un.org 

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Themes Early warning
Country and region Africa Eswatini Mozambique
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