Dr Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Ghana, has urged West African countries to pay more attention to strengthening disaster preparedness and post-disaster recovery.
She said recovery measures could be leveraged as an opportunity for building back better with durable solutions and risk-sensitive investments for sustainable development.
Dr Lusigi said this on Monday in Accra at the opening ceremony of a three-day regional workshop on disaster recovery priorities and preparing a roadmap for recovery preparedness in West Africa.
The workshop is organised by the ECOWAS Commission with technical support from UNDP and funded by the European Union and the Swedish government.
The workshop is under the auspices of the Sahel Resilience Project and the Project on Strengthening Capacities for Post Disaster Needs Assessment and Recovery Preparedness.
Recovery in West Africa, she stated, required a broader regional approach that integrated the region’s diversity, shared borders and mobile population.
"Conflicts, climate-related disasters and impacts, and epidemics that spill over across borders must be integrated into our common efforts for building resilience."
"We must also include the most vulnerable populations in disaster response and recovery. Failing to include women and girls, migrants and displaced people means failure to respond to and recover from crises in a sustainable manner," she said.
"Our collective ability to respond to and recover from disasters is critical for the protection of hard-earned development gains and for ensuring a better quality of life for all, particularly in the fragile settings of Western Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin," he said.
The ECOWAS region ranks highest among Africa’s six regions in terms of risk exposure, vulnerability and number of people affected by disasters.
Floods and droughts persist, and during the last 40 years have impacted about 100 million people.
In June 2015, severe floods in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area affected some 53,000 people and had continue to cause heavy disruption and losses.
The sixth IPCC report in 2021 projects an increase in droughts, heavy precipitation and pluvial flooding in the West African region.
She called for dialogue to support effective implementation of disaster response, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction in fragile settings.
Dr Lusigi commended Ghana and the insurance industry for partnering with UNDP Ghana to design innovative insurance solutions to manage flood risks and provide rapid pay-outs for poor and vulnerable urban communities.
Dr Sintiki Tarfa Ugbe, Director, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, and senior representatives from the ECOWAS Commission called for continuous collaboration to build the synergy and resilience for post-disaster recovery mechanisms.
Mr Frank Aggrey, the Deputy Director, Climate Change Unit, National Disaster and Management Organisation (NADMO), called for the development of a framework that would be sustainable for the region.