The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax received a delegation from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), on 25th November 2019, in Gaborone, Botswana.
H.E. Dr. Tax welcomed the delegation to the Secretariat head office and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to exchange views on disaster management. She said that SADC looks forward to enhanced collaboration with regional and international Partners to strengthen its regional disaster preparedness and response capacities. She highlighted on climate challenges and increasing trend in disaster occurrences, such as the frequent drought and flood events, harsh climates affecting water resources, veld fire outbreaks, agricultural and food security impediments, loss of protective reef barrier, and El Niño induced droughts, as elements which can seriously cause socio-economic downturn to the region, if not managed effectively and timeously.
H.E. Dr. Tax further emphasised the urgency of developing instruments and systems to support the operationalization of the SADC Regional Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy.
On his part, the ECHO Technical Assistant, for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (SAIO), Mr Alexandra Castellano, outlined the role played by ECHO in supporting SADC Member States in disaster risks activities and initiatives, through, among others, establishing minimum standards for disaster risk management and civil protection. He added that ECHO maps comparative and complementary technical capacities from the EU Civil Protection Organisations to respond to various disasters and humanitarian situations. He added that his organisation provided humanitarian assistance during the Tropical Cyclone IDAI in 2019 which affected an estimated 3 million people in three of the SADC Member States, particularly, in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Mr. Castellano highlighted that the SADC region requires concerted efforts, and a coordinated approach that will capitalise on existing capacities and competence by various stakeholders and partners.
The meeting agreed to explore collaborative approaches that will involve keys partners. The parties also agreed to identify areas of convergence and complementarities between SADC and ECHO in strengthening regional and national emergency and humanitarian response and resilience building.
The ECHO delegation comprised of His Excellency, Jan Sadek, the Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Botswana and SADC; ECHO Technical Assistant for Southern African and Indian Ocean (SAIO), Mr Alexandra Castellana; Mr. Berna Federico; and the EU Programme Officer for Botswana, Mr Tebogo Matlhare; while the Executive Secretary of Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency, Dr. Stergomena L. Tax was accompanied by the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for Regional Integration, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo; Senior Officer Politics and Diplomacy, Dr. Gabriel Malebang; Senior Support Officer for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Alex Banda; and Senior Programme Officer for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms Sithembiso Gina.