The Committee of Ministers responsible for Disaster Risk Management of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called for accelerated disaster preparedness and resilience building to mitigate the devastating impacts of natural disasters.
The SADC Ministers made the call during the meeting held in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 25th May 2023 as they deliberated and agreed on measures to relieve the region of the recurrent disasters caused by floods, drought, diseases and other health issues caused by climate change and variability.
In his address, His Excellency Peter Kazadi Kankonde, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Security of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Chairperson of the Committee of SADC Ministers Responsible for Disaster Risk Management urged the region to increase its preparedness in the fight against climate change and natural disasters, and continuously seek to enhance disaster risk management.
He highlighted the recent torrential rains in Bushushu and Nyamukubi in Kalehe, both in the South Kivu region in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which caused extensive damage, flooding and mudslides, that claimed over 400 lives and left over 2,500 others missing.
He drew attention to the damages and losses in the region, particularly in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa, where nearly 2,000 lives were lost between March and May of this year. This is in addition to the billions of dollars lost in property, and infrastructure damages.
H.E Kankonde applauded the SADC region for developing the Regional Multi-Hazard Planning Framework 2022-2030 and the SADC Regional Multi-Hazard Contingency Plan 2022-2023 that will guide the development of annual regional multi-hazard contingency plans based on current sector-specific disaster risk projections.
For her part, Ms. Angèle Makombo N'tumba, SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Regional Integration who was representing the Executive Secretary of SADC, His Excellency Mr Elias M. Magosiemphasised on the need to accelerate interventions necessary for the region to stay afloat. She underscored the need for the recently published report on the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction by the United Nations to serve as a blueprint for SADC to scale up preparedness and resilience building through among others , strengthening its early warning systems and improving mechanisms that promote the sharing of early warning information.
During the meeting the Ministers considered strategic regional documents aimed at enhancing coordinated disaster risk reduction, received reports on the status of implementation of the activities of the Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis Programme including the development of the SADC (RVAA) Strategic Plan 2023-2030, coordination and management the RVAA System and finalisation of the study on the regional disaster risk financing facility.
Six (6) Member States signed the Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) for the establishment of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC) which is based in Mozambique, and will coordinat humanitarian and emergency support to Member States affected by disasters. So far the Republics of Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the United Republic of Tanzania have signed the MoU.
The meeting observed a moment of silence and paid solidarity with the people and Government of the DRC, and other Member States that have experienced losses and damages during these recent events.
The Committee of Ministers responsible for Disaster Risk Management was attended by Ministers or their representatives from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Committee is responsible for strengthening disaster risk reduction (DRR), enhance regional understanding cooperation, and promote coordinated interventions and approaches to disaster risk management (DRM) in the SADC region.