AU urges actions to reduce impact of disasters in Africa

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-13 18:27:15|Editor: Mengjie
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ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) reiterated on Friday that African governments and stakeholders should take strenuous actions in implementing policies already put in place to reduce negative impacts of disasters on the African continent.

This came as the pan-African bloc commemorated the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) 2017 on its premises in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, with a view of creating platform for sharing experiences and best practices in implementing programs to reduce negative impacts of disasters.

The commemoration session held under the theme, "Home Safe Home, Reducing Exposure, and Reducing Displacement," noted that Africa has continued to remain the continent most vulnerable to hazards.

Between the years 1985 and 2015, losses in Africa range from 3.5 billion U.S. dollars to 22 billion dollars, recalled an official of the United Nations in his opening remarks during the opening of the half-day session at the AU headquarter today.

A total of 2,147 natural hazards recorded in those three decades, with more than 210,000 losses in human lives, close to 190,000 people injured, around 400 million people needing immediate assistance and about 8 million people homeless, among other undocumented impacts of hazards.

Since the year 2000, sub-Saharan Africa has recorded an average of two disasters per week, affecting around 12.5 million people every year.

In August 2017, the African continent witnessed severe flooding and mudslide that killed 499 people and left close to 600 people missing and more than 1,000 people injured in Sierra Leone. And more than 150 people also died and many others left injured and homeless due to landslide in the DR Congo.

In her remarks, Amira El-Fadil, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, has underlined the need to take actions in implementing risk reduction policies towards reducing the number of people affected by the natural and human-induced hazards.

"In Africa, we have abundance of polices and decisions yet to continue to remain the most vulnerable continent to hazards," she said, adding, "This commemoration comes as yet another wake-up call to the African governments and all the stakeholders to take actions that we see those policies being implemented."

The most hazard-prone countries in Africa, based on past frequencies and analysis of disaster risk indexes, are Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and Uganda.

Despite Ethiopia's impressive economic growth over the past couple of decades, natural disaster remains one of the biggest challenges facing the East African country, noted Mitiku Kassa, Ethiopia's Commissioner for National Disaster Risk Management.

Stating that millions of people have negatively affected by disasters in the Horn of Africa region, the Commissioner reiterated that more than 8 million of people are affected by climate change-induced drought in Ethiopia.

He also stated that Ethiopia has been implementing policies and programs to deliver on commitment to prevent and reduce disaster risks in the country.

The UN General Assembly has designated October 13 as IDDR to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.