AU Commission eyes cooperation with China on disaster risk management: senior expert

  • World
  • Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

HARARE, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The African Union Commission (AUC) is keen to strengthen cooperation with China in disaster risk management, particularly focusing on the development of multi-hazard early warning systems on the continent, an AUC senior expert said Friday.

Lusajo Ambukege, a senior expert at AUC's Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action Situation Room, told Xinhua on the sidelines of a joint Southern African Development Community, United Nations, and AUC meeting on the drought situation in Zimbabwe held in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital.

"At the moment, we are working on the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between the African Union and China," he said.

Ambukege said through facilitation by the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia, the AUC has been linked with China's International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to forge partnerships with China to strengthen Africa's disaster preparedness and resilience to climate-related and multi-hazards.

"We want to see how we can, through support from partners including China, also support the regional economic communities as well as the member states for them to be equipped and empowered with multi-hazard early warning systems," Ambukege said.

According to the AUC, Africa's risk profile is marked by high vulnerability, high hazard, and low coping capacity.

Ambukege said while there are strong early warning systems on the continent, most of these are not multi-hazard, inter-linked, or interoperable, and yet multi-hazards are on the rise on the continent.

"We saw from COVID-19 that disasters are actually inter-connected and intertwined, and I think multi-hazard early warning systems will give us an advantage of having a systems approach in terms of risk management. It will give us more leverage and capacity to deal with hazards using a holistic approach rather than a single approach," Ambukenge said.

He added that financial and capacity-building support is also essential to strengthen Africa's disaster risk management.

"The focus basically is on training, and we are also looking at South-South collaboration between our colleagues in China and the African continent. We see that this collaboration is quite critical in terms of our disaster preparedness, early warning systems as well as anticipatory action. We are also looking at the possibility of having joint applications for some funding both in China and the United Nations," he said.

Zimbabwe is among several countries in Southern Africa that were hit by the El Nino-induced drought this year, which has left about 60 percent of the population in Zimbabwe in need of food aid.

In light of the drought, the joint SADC, UN, and AUC mission undertook a visit to Zimbabwe to assess its early warning systems and take stock of the impact and national response to the drought.

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