July 30, 2013
The ECOWAS Commission hosted a two-day Regional DRR Mapping Exercise on Transnational Disaster Threats on 16-17 April 2013. The exercise was facilitated by the FOREWARN Initiative implementing partners, Humanitarian Futures Programme (HFP), King’s College London and DARA
Nine ECOWAS Directorates participated in the event: Humanitarian and Social Affairs (HSA), Agriculture, Communications, Early Warning, Environment, External Relations, Political Affairs, Private Sector and Strategic Planning. The following international partners were also represented at the mapping exercise: the European Union, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), and the World Food Programme (WFP).
DARA presented findings from studies in six ECOWAS member states, namely Ghana, Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea, Niger and the Gambia. DARA’s work in these countries examines local level factors that threaten people’s resilience capacity and exposes them to natural hazards. Many of these factors have cross border relevance, particularly when it concerns river basin management, droughts and the so-called climate refugees moving across borders in the region. One of the key findings in all six countries is that more and more people are driven away from their homes because of falling agricultural outputs in rural areas. Migration in the region puts huge pressure on already scarce resources in cities, most of which are concentrated on the southern coastline. Migrants living in the cities are further exposed due to a mix of high unemployment rates, poor urban planning and the lack of basic infrastructures.
The Abuja event is part of DARA’s long-term engagement in West Africa where one of the key elements is to raise awareness of the need for more cross-sectoral planning processes and understanding of local level risk drivers. Raising awareness on these issues is necessary if local and national governments, as well as regional actors such as ECOWAS, are to be successful in managing the region’s multiple risks.