Disasters, no matter the form it takes is a common phenomenon the world over, some of which escalate into emergencies as a result of their magnitude.
However, despite their unpredictability sometimes, the absence of a plan to deal with these incidents and natural occurrences such as floods, earthquakes, droughts and epidemic as well as fire outbreaks as has been experienced in Ghana and the African continent lately, always has the propensity to aggravate an already bad situation.
But even where strategies and plans have been thought out, the danger that the destruction and disruption of basic water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and services pose to an already precarious situation have most times been ignored, thus giving rise to epidemics of immeasurable proportions.
Today the biggest issue with nations across the world be it developed, underdeveloped or developing is finding the money so that when disaster strikes all emergency tools and plans can be put into motion in helping mitigate the impact on the environment and the citizens
It is as a result of this that African Risk Capacity, ARC, last Saturday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the African Media Initiative, (AMI) to help educate journalists who are the front liners in communication with Africans across on the need to collaborate on the awareness-building on disaster risk financing.
The day’s workshop which was organised ahead of the 7th session of the African Risk Capacity’s conference of parties in Addis Ababa Ethiopia was a to equip the journalist in attendance to report accurately and point out the importance for African leaders to embrace while preparing to incorporate into their budget climate and disaster risk financing.
In an interview, the Director – General of the ARC Mohamed Beavogui said, whenever natural disaster events occur, and the continent is always caught unawares, with severe loss of human lives, and infrastructure which puts a strain on populations and economies.
He, therefore, urged Journalists on the continent to help educate the population while advocating for the government to move away from the fire fighting approach to dealing disasters and plan ahead to mitigate the impact of climate and disaster.
“Yet despite its low emissions, the region is the most vulnerable to climate change. We have just seen this play out in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Tropical Cyclone Idai has been described as the most destructive in decades. Still, our people lack the requisite information to better anticipate, plan and respond to natural disasters in a timely manner.”
It is for this reason that African heads of state put together the ARC which has also put together the ARC Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd) to provide insurance to participating sovereigns. It is a mutual insurance company owned by its members (participating African governments and capital contributors) and incorporated for an interim period in Bermuda.
Meanwhile, the Head of Communication at the African Union Commission Wynne Musabayana told JoyBusiness that access to information is a big challenge for the Media in Africa hence the need to build their capacities to tell the African Story by owning the narrative.
She pointed out that climate and disaster risk financing is about boosting the economic resilience of vulnerable countries to better adapt to the financial cost of disasters, thereby helping to protect lives and development gains made by these nations.
“When disaster events occur, African countries do not always have any contingent financial pool to kick start a response; rather they must WAIT on appeals to their immediate neighbours and the global community for assistance. It is therefore imperative for everyone to know that in Africa, we have this organization called Africa Risk Capacity, which provide the innovative financial solutions to countries affected by disasters,” she said.
On her part, Dr Roukaya Kasenally Chief Executive Officer of the African Media Initiative who signed the MOU for and on behalf of the AMI emphasised the need for journalist across the continent to own the narrative with regards to telling the African Story.
According to her journalist from the continent can better tell the story than those from the western world. She pointed out that Africa on the rise is not possible without the African media.
Dr. Kasenally said the workshop was important because, “it is also imperative that the media informs itself and makes the information available to countries, that there are sovereign disaster insurance solutions which they can access, to be able to respond in a timelier manner when events occur, to ensure that the necessary first response aid is provided while awaiting external assistance.”
The MOU which was signed between the African Media Initiative and the African Risk Capacity was to ensure that the media on the continent build their capacity to support the management of disasters by educating the public, disseminating warnings of hazards; gathering and transmitting information about affected areas; alerting government officials, relief organization and the public to specific needs; and facilitating discussions about disaster preparedness and response for continuous improvement.