SRSG Mami Mizutori's opening remarks of the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Africa - Towards disaster risk-informed development for a resilient Africa in a covid-19 transformed world
Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Africa
Towards disaster risk-informed development for a resilient Africa in a covid-19 transformed world
17 November 2021
Opening Ceremony Remarks
Mrs. Mami Mizutori
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
It my great honour to welcome you all to the 8th session of the Africa Regional Platform.
I would like to convey my appreciation to our host, the Government of Kenya, through the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Dr. Engineer Karanja Kibicho.
I would also like to express my thanks to the African Union Commissioner H.E. Ambassador Josefa L. C. Sacko and the IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, for their contribution and support in the organization of this Regional Platform.
I expect that the outcome of this Regional Platform will make a significant contribution to the Mid-Term Review of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which is now underway.
It is worth recalling that His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta was present in Sendai, Japan, for the 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015 when this global blueprint for reducing disaster losses was adopted.
African States contributed considerably to the shaping of the Sendai Framework, particularly its unprecedented focus on health as an integral part of disaster risk management, and thereby helping to ensure that epidemic and pandemic preparedness were included in the final text.
This is not surprising as the region has borne the brunt of many epidemics and developed many innovations for tackling outbreaks of Ebola, malaria, and HIV Aids, to mention a few.
With 7 million infections and nearly 175,000 lives lost across the African continent, the impact of COVID-19 has already been severe, leading to economic and social disruption that has threatened more lives and livelihoods, putting years of human development progress in danger.
Given Africa’s advocacy for the inclusion of health in disaster risk reduction, it is a scandal that the region has been so underserved by the worldwide vaccine roll-out to the point where just 5% of the region’s population has been vaccinated to date.
At the same time, the continent suffers great loss and damage because of global warming and climate change.
This was very evident in the last year when 4.3 million people were displaced across the region, mainly by floods caused by unusually long and intense rainy seasons.
Conflict combined with natural hazards further complicates the work of disaster risk reduction in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Conflict, large-scale displacement, drought, flooding, disease outbreaks and desert locust infestations continue to drive humanitarian needs across the Horn of Africa, where some 20 million people are targeted for humanitarian assistance, including 7 million who are directly affected by the conflict in northern Ethiopia.
The huge shortfall in humanitarian assistance for countries like Ethiopia underlines how important it is to have in place robust national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction supported by strong risk governance including well-resourced national disaster management agencies.
International cooperation and support for DRR strategies and climate change adaptation depends on proof of a clear vision, good planning, competence, and coordination within and across sectors.
I saw this in action when I had the opportunity to visit Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, two years ago.
I took a “resilience tour” with the Kisumu City Manager and staff. Good risk governance was evident everywhere I looked including moving the town dump to a safer location; opening a new bridge to relieve the impact of floods; consultation with slumdwellers; and dredging tributaries of Lake Victoria before the rainy season.
This is what moving towards disaster risk-informed development for a resilient Africa in a COVID-19 transformed world looks like on the ground.
It means building resilience to climate change at the local level and taking account of the broad impacts of extreme weather events driven by poverty, inequality, land use, poorly planned urbanization, and environmental challenges.
UNDRR stands ready to support such initiatives through the new Making Cities Resilient Campaign, MCR2030; developing national disaster loss databases to guide policy and risk informed investment; creating risk profiles; and, as we do here in Kenya, supporting national symposiums on DRR.
We know much more now about how dynamic the risk landscape has become with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. A health crisis becomes an economic crisis which creates poverty, hunger, and ever more difficult living conditions for those most at risk of disasters.
Nothing undermines development like a disaster, and we must break this vicious circle by putting into effect the Programme of Action for implementing the Sendai Framework in Africa.
By developing national DRR strategies as agreed in the Programme of Action and integrating DRR in National Adaptation Plans, the region can make best use of the resources available to cope with slow-onset and extreme weather events.
Through our Regional Office in Nairobi, UNDRR will continue to ensure there is stronger integration of DRR and climate change adaptation in Cooperation Frameworks at the national level in support of UN country offices working with national governments.
I was very pleased to learn of the progress being made by the government of Kenya to adopt the National Disaster Risk Management Bill, which will act as an example to others, and help the country to strengthen coordination of DRR activities and to define roles and responsibilities of stakeholders
Good disaster risk governance flows from political commitment, good legislation and proper DRR Institutional arrangements.
It also requires an all-of-society approach and taking advantage of the demographic dividend of a large young population by ensuring that youth are involved in the work of disaster risk reduction.
The outcome of this Regional Platform will contribute to the Africa Common Position to the Global Platform which will take place in Indonesia, in May 2022 and I extend a cordial invitation to you all to attend.
I would like to close by thanking you all for attending and participating to the full over the next days.
I am very grateful to our host, the Government of Kenya, and can only express my very deep regret that circumstances have obliged us to meet virtually.
Thank you for your attention and I look forward to a very productive few days.