In Sub-Saharan Africa, the response to the pandemic is unfolding with various DRR governance approaches and initiatives to curb the spread of the disease as well as its interconnected socioeconomic impacts. As a result of an often resourced constrained environment and strong past experiences with the Ebola crises, approaches in Sub-Saharan countries have their own specificities and common trends.
This paper focuses on actions taken by disaster risk reduction actors in Africa in relation to COVID-19. The results from the information were gathered through both desk research and a survey. The responses to the survey were complemented with additional desk analyses of national DRR strategies, contingency and response plans, analysis of COVID-19 official websites as well as data from either the African Center for Disease Control or the World Bank and other online publicly available resources.
The results to the survey present the views of national DRR focal points related to the COVID-response and the involvement of the national disaster risk management agencies (NDRMAs). The survey was an early stocktaking exercise, not an exhaustive study of national activities. The questionnaire was disseminated on 6 April 2020 to the national DRR focal points, Sendai Framework Monitor focal points, DesInventar focal points and in some cases other DRR stakeholders in 44 countries (questionnaire and list of responding countries and institutions in Annex). This paper has therefore benefited from responses from 31 countries received by end of April 2020.
This paper first describes the integration of biological hazards in DRR strategies, by looking at eight DRR strategies from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Secondly, it looks at roles and responsibilities of DRR agencies in the response to COVID-19 and, by looking at contingency plans available online, it describes common characteristics of response planning for COVID-19. Thirdly, by reviewing official websites to complement the responses to the questionnaire, it describes the risk communication activities ongoing in targeted countries. Finally, it looks at the main DRR policies across Sub-Saharan Africa and the involvement of NDRMAs to both lower the spread of the disease as well as to curb the socioeconomic impacts of the crisis. These elements area preliminary attempt to capture the most recent measures undertaken by Governments, which are evolving fast.