Nairobi/Tunis, 16 October 2018—Communities in Africa and in the Middle East are facing some of the most challenging humanitarian conditions of the 21st century. The situation is likely to worsen unless governments review their policies to empower communities and local humanitarian actors to better prepare for and respond to disasters.

This was the assessment of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) at the end of the Africa-Arab Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), in Tunis.

“Many countries in which we work are currently grappling with complex crises, including sudden and protracted disasters, which have led to internal displacement and cross border migration,” said Sayed Hashem, IFRC Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa.

IFRC and its member National Societies in Africa and in the Middle East have called upon African and Middle Eastern states to review their policies to strengthen disaster risk management and boost community resilience.

Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC Regional Director for Africa said:

“We urge governments to promote local early warning systems to ensure that when disasters strike, responders at all levels can act in a timely manner to save lives and improve the quality of life for those affected.”

In 2014, a study by IFRC and UNDP identified substantial challenges with regards to the integration of disaster risk reduction into national policy and legal frameworks, especially in low and middle income countries.

With climate related disasters doubling in the past decades, and climate change giving rise to increased uncertainty and more extreme weather events, IFRC appealed for an acceleration of innovation aimed at addressing disaster risks. This included a call for a change in the traditional humanitarian model. In the current mechanism, disaster management funds and budgets are still response oriented, leaving next to nothing for risk reduction activities.

“Funding for disaster response should be based on forecasts of impending natural hazards. Financial aid should be directed to activities designed to reduce the risk of predictable hazards turning into major disasters, ensuring that people are informed and ready to act when the need arises,” said Hashem.

In their capacity as auxiliaries to public authorities in the humanitarian field, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies attending the Tunis event reiterated their commitment to join forces with local and national authorities to develop local risk management policies and practices to promote community resilience and sustainability.

IFRC will work with its National Societies to prioritize actions based on the needs of people living in high-risk areas or those belonging to traditionally excluded groups. In particular, these include the following categories of people: those who live in geographically remote locations or in areas that are affected by insecurity, migrants, those affected by climate change, as well as women and girls.

 

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In Beirut: Rana Sidani Cassou, +961 71 80 2779, rana.cassou@ifrc.org

In Nairobi: Euloge Ishimwe, +254 731 688 613, euloge.ishimwe@ifrc.org

In Geneva: Laura Ngo-Fontaine, +41 79 570 4418, laura.ngofontaine@ifrc.org