Johannesburg, 28-30 June 2022 — The “Southern Africa-Indian Ocean (SA-IO) Disaster Preparedness ECHO and Partners Workshop” was jointly organized by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). The yearly workshop brought together a wide variety to stakeholders to discuss Disaster Preparedness in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region. Around 240 participants ranging from civil society, state actors, international organisations and GIZ’s Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM) met at this hybrid event.
The SA-IO region is highly vulnerable to hazards such as droughts, floods, cyclones, and epidemics resulting in loss of lives and livelihoods. Exacerbated by political and/or socio-economic challenges and fragile contexts, development achievements are undermined by disasters.
The objective of the workshop was to discuss and review disaster scenarios, preparedness experiences, and lessons learnt from the region, explore achievements and challenges, and provide recommendations for ECHO and partners. The workshop focused especially on cyclones and conflict scenarios, early warning platforms and anticipatory action in the humanitarian setting and disaster preparedness in urban environments.
The Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management outlined its objective to mainstream risk-informed development in a short presentation and focused on the implementation of the project and cooperation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC). As the core counterpart of the GIDRM in Southern Africa, the Disaster Risk Reduction Unit from the SADC Secretariat highlighted the establishment and operationalization of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Centre (SHOC) in Mozambique.
Among the insights of the discussions on anticipatory action and preparedness in conflict and cyclone scenarios was 1) that humanitarian interventions focused mainly on rural areas and that methods and strategies would not necessarily translate to urban environments; 2) that predicting the wide range of conflicts possible and intervening in these contexts present unique challenges to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
At the plenary session on “Early Warning Digital Platforms”, the high-level speakers from the African Union, UNDRR, World Meteorological Organization and the CIMA Research Foundation agreed on the importance of ensuring that the various digital early warning systems and platforms out there are interoperable and share data. The issue of capacity building on how to use and analyse this data was also highlighted.
DG ECHO used the opportunity of this workshop to provide an overview of their new DG ECHO Disaster Preparedness Guidance Note aiming at mainstreaming a preparedness and risk-informed approach in all its response operations. The workshop also provided a marketplace for participants to present their work ranging from disaster risk reduction measures in school curricula to the usage of drones for disaster preparedness and response.