ECOWAS supports early warnings for all with a new disaster operations centre
ABUJA, Nigeria- In March 2022 the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the Early Warnings for All initiative calling for every person on Earth to be protected by early warning systems by 2027. The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is taking concrete action to ensure that West Africa meets this goal.
Today ECOWAS inaugurated its new Disaster Operations Centre in Abuja to strengthen regional coordination and improved data and information exchange among its Member States. The centre is positioned to enhance existing capacity built over years of previous investments and enable the transformation of Early Warning into Early and Anticipatory Actions on the ground, through the partnership established with national governments, intergovernmental organizations, UN systems and other humanitarian partners. Opening the Centre, Professor Fatou Sow Sarr, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs, spoke on behalf of ECOWAS President Dr Alieu Omar Touray:
“Today marks a significant milestone in our journey towards achieving the objectives set forth in Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063, strengthening our ability to tackle cross-border challenges.”
Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, also spoke at the event, noting that:
“The need for these services, through the ECOWAS Disaster Operations Centre, has never been higher, as climate-driven disasters continue to rise. We know that a warning of just 24 hours can reduce ensuing damage by up to 30 percent.”
Italy’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Stefano De Leo, said:
“Italy is proud for having inspired the road map and supported its initial implementation through sharing knowledge and experience and with a financial contribution of above USD 14 Million. He also remarked that Italy aims to continue and further expand the support in Africa and beyond. In the African context, the Centre in ECOWAS will play a key role in multi-hazard monitoring, and early warnings for Early and Anticipatory Actions in the region and across the continent.”
With the opening of the Abuja Disaster Operations Centre, there are now four such interlinked situation rooms. The others are based at the African Union Commission (AUC) in Addis Ababa; the African Centre of Meteorological Application for Development (ACMAD) in Niamey; and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development-Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (IGAD-ICPAC) in Nairobi.
The ECOWAS Disaster Operations Centre is now an operational component of the African Multi Hazards Early Warning System for Early Action. Its development was made possible through support from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, along with the Italian Agency for International Cooperation, the political leadership of the African Union, and technical guidance and support from UNDRR and the CIMA Foundation.
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