Sendai Framework key for local resilience in Africa

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa
Mayors from Mauritania, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Morocco at the Africities Session (Photo: UNISDR)
Mayors from Mauritania, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Morocco at the Africities Session (Photo: UNISDR)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 5 January 2016 – Disasters in Sub-Saharan Africa are increasing in frequency, severity and impacts, and the continent’s rapid urban growth means that risk-sensitive development is crucial, according to participants at an international conference.

Delegates at the seventh edition of the Africities summit spotlighted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as a key instrument for local governments to address risks and enhance resilience at the local level.

On average, almost two disasters of significant proportions have been recorded every week in Sub-Saharan Africa since 2000. Water, weather and climate hazards dominate the region’s disaster profile, affecting, on average, around 12.5 million people per year.

Panellists at an Africities session, held last month, stated that rapid urbanization in Africa and the rising risk level heavily concentrated in cities are key factors that point to the need for risk-sensitive urbanisation. The session was co-organized by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), with the participation of four mayors from Tevragh Zeina (Mauritania), Praia (Cape Verde), Xai Xai (Mozambique) and Al Hoceima (Morocco), a mayoral representative from Chefchaouen (Morocco) and a representative of Cités Unies France. Josep Roig, Secretary General of UCLG, delivered the opening remarks.

The panellists’ presentations underlined how strides are being made to counter risks through engaging with local governments to address them, prepare for disasters and enhance resilience at community levels.

However, limited community awareness and low local government capacity to act and react to risks and disasters were identified as gaps in the ongoing efforts to step-up disaster risk reduction and enhance resilience. There is also low public awareness on the role that people can play to prevent disasters and disaster risk.

To counter this, panellists agreed on the urgent need to further promote the use of the Sendai Framework and enhance awareness with a strong focus on the national associations of local authorities.

Understanding disaster risk at the local level is the first critical step to prevent and prepare for disasters. Organising a network of cities facing disasters and disaster risks to allow them to share experiences and good practices and develop local-level action plans is essential and UCLG and UNISDR, in partnership with local authorities, were challenged to take the lead to strengthen this network.

The 10 Essentials for Making Cities Resilient, launched in 2010 by UNISDR, and subsequently revised following the adoption of the Sendai Framework in March 2015, form the building blocks for disaster risk reduction and were recognised as a strong tool to develop future disaster risk reduction and resilience action plans, help raise disaster risk awareness and build capacity at the local level.

While urbanisation mirrors economic growth and is a development opportunity, it is also a driver of risk. Risk-sensitive urbanisation is critical to achieving the objectives of resilient cities - urban growth and development must take risk into consideration in order to create a sustainable future.

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