Accra, July 5th 2022 — The National Disaster Management Agency’s Director of Relief and Response is currently in Ghana participating in a Three-day ECOWAS regional workshop on disaster recovery priorities and preparing a roadmap for recovery preparedness in West Africa.
The workshop which is under the auspices of the Sahel Resilience Project and the Project on Strengthening Capacities for Post Disaster Needs Assessment and Recovery Preparedness is organized by the ECOWAS Commission with technical support from the United Nations Development Program with funding from the European Union and the Swedish Government.
The workshop attracted 3 senior representatives from each of the 15 ECOWAS member states. The Sierra Leone participants comprised Director Sinneh Mansaray, Director of Relief and Response, NDMA, a representative from the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development and a representative from the Ministry of Social Welfare. Other key resource persons from relevant agencies such as UNDP, UN Women, World Health Organisation were also in attendance.
The workshop seeks to explore ways in which the ECOWAS Commission and its member states can better support each other’s recovery processes, including those that are cross-border and regional in nature.
Key objectives of the workshop are to exchange and learn from member states’ recovery experiences and identifying the challenges and gaps in current institutional arrangements and policies, financing mechanisms, implementation of recovery and priority areas and key actions for strengthening these aspects.
The ECOWAS region is ranked highest among Africa’s six regions in terms of disaster risk exposure, vulnerability and number of people affected by disasters.
Furthermore, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report projects for the West African region acknowledged that ECOWAS member states have been persistently affected by landslides, wildfires, desertification, epidemics and insect infestations.
The complexity of recovering from the impact of these hazards in the ECOWAS region is exacerbated by its security context that is shaped by fragility, conflict and violence.
Despite the fact above, the ECOWAS Commission has undertaken substantial efforts in addressing disaster risks. These efforts include the ECOWAS Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Plan of Action (2015–2030), which aims to strengthen relevant institutions at regional and national levels for addressing the evolving and challenging risk scenarios that often present competing and complex priorities. It also aims to mobilize a broad coalition of partners to build resilience to hazards and for integrating disaster risk reduction into sustainable development as well as an Action Plan with other initiatives in the ECOWAS Regional
Strategy on Reduction of Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in West Africa.
One of the only available reports that assesses the status quo of recovery practice in the region is the ‘Disaster Risk Reduction in West Africa and the Sahelian Region: A Review of Progress’ undertaken by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) under the Sahel Resilience Project, funded by the Government of Sweden. This assessment indicates how in a number of member states, legislations do not adequately address post-disaster recovery yet, which are instead undertaken through projects supported by external partners without the necessary long-term follow-up, policy framework, resources (technical and financial)or mandated lead entities.
On the World Risk Index 2021, Sierra Leone is rated 47th amongst 181 nations, recording high scores for vulnerability, susceptibility and lack of coping capacities. The situation seems to be worsening. For example, Freetown, the country’s capital, has experienced over 25 major urban fires since February 2021.
According to Dr Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ghana, recovery measures could be leveraged as an opportunity for building back better with durable solutions and risk-sensitive investments for sustainable development.
“support is needed for effective disaster response, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction in fragile setting if we want to build back better” she stated.
Other speakers who also stressed the need to development a sustainable framework for the region includes Dr Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, and senior representatives from the ECOWAS Commission and Mr Frank Aggrey, the Deputy Director, Climate Change Unit, National Disaster and Management Organisation (NADMO).
It is expected that at the end of the workshop participants within the 15 ECOWAS member states will have shared understanding of the challenges and gaps in the current recovery processes which includesinstitutional arrangements and policy, financing mechanisms, and implementation strategy.
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