Disaster Risk Reduction efforts in West Africa

The heavy rains in Senegal have caused severe floods in 2009 in almost all suburbs of Dakar, the capital. Ricci Shryock/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Within the context of increasing uncertainties and growing vulnerabilities in the region, the Africa Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction has recently revised the “Programme of Action for the Implementation of the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (2006‐2015)“. Among its goal and objectives are the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) as an integral part of sustainable development, the strengthening of regional and sub‐regional capacities, national mechanisms and legislative frameworks, and the translation of policies and strategies into practical tools for decision‐makers and practitioners to facilitate implementation of the Programme of Action and the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005‐2015.

Regional entities, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), are envisioned to play a significant role in providing strategic guidance to Member States in order to facilitate the implementation of strategies and programmes, as well as the coordination of inter‐state initiatives. However, in the West Africa region, several gaps have been identified for regional and national actors in order to improve their DRR and CCA programmes and planning. Apart from shortages in capacities to implement programmes, there is also a need to strengthen risk identification, vulnerability analysis by specific sector and more integrated approaches that include sectoral plans (i.e. health, education, environment, etc.), along with governance and planning issues.