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Southern Africa should bring resilience building to the front burner

Long term emergency intervention ideal for resilience building

Southern Africa has of late experienced consecutive droughts and emergency of transboundary pests such as the fall armyworm. Photo FAO/Edward Ogolla

05 April 2018, Pretoria – Southern Africa needs to shift focus from short-term, mainly emergency interventions, to medium-term and long-term interventions for sustainable building of household, community and organizational resilience. Humanitarian and development partners have adopted resilience as an overarching theme and the best way to address the recurring threats and shocks.

Southern Africa has not been spared from global shocks and disasters that have left communities food and nutrition insecure. The intermittent rains, with consecutive droughts, as well as outbreaks of crop and livestock diseases as well as pests have left communities more vulnerable.

Lewis Hove, FAO Representative in South Africa and head of the FAO Resilience Hub for Southern Africa, said it was time for partners to bring resilience to the front burner as there is a high return on investment into building capacities of communities to withstand shocks.

“It makes economic sense as a long-term commitment to investing in resilience building increases cost-effectiveness by reducing the financial, administrative and resource burdens of responding to recurrent crises and missed opportunities in development,” said Hove.

Hove was speaking at a Regional Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Conference which, was organized by the SADC Secretariat in collaboration with the Government of South Africa. The conference was held under the theme: ‘Resilience for Sustainable Development’ and it brought together technical officials from SADC Member States, United Nations agencies, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), International Cooperating Partners (ICPs), the private sector and academia.

Hove added that because resilience is a cross-cutting theme, it tended to be lost during discussions of emergency/humanitarian interventions and development interventions. “Resilience is about enhancing capacities to absorb, adapt and transform in the face of shocks and stressors through collaboration among international organizations, governments and regional bodies over a prolonged period,” added Hove.

Some of the key topics discussed at the conference include; SADC DRR Programming Towards 2030; Linking research with practice: role of academia towards DRR in Southern Africa; agriculture and food security; progress and monitoring progress towards Sendai Framework of Action on DRR; community based DRR; mainstreaming DRR in Southern Africa – Review of experiences, best practices and recommendations from water resources management and gender; Urban and ecosystem-based DRR; Research experiences on DRR; Adaptation and Migration and displacement; and Risk Finance Initiatives.

The conference was supported by World Bank, European Union, United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction, North West University and African Union Commission.

About SADC DRR Unit

The Disaster Risk Reduction Unit of the SADC Secretariat has the mandate to proactively coordinate disaster risk management at regional level. The Secretariat is in the process of developing a Regional DRR strategy to be aligned to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) (2015 – 2030) and the African Union Programme of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction. This Strategy will replace the one SADC developed in 2006 which was aligned to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) and the Africa Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (ARSDRR) (2004).

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