The International Federation has joined forces with the United Nations Environment Programme in a bid to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the lives of millions of Africans.
The two organisations forged their "partnership towards disaster risk reduction in Africa" when they signed a memorandum of understanding in Geneva on Monday.
Within the framework of a three-year project, International Federation and UNEP will support local and national actors in reviewing current policies and early warning systems. Based on the results of vulnerability studies, they will also prepare seasonal emergency contingency plans.
The two men who signed the memorandum - the International Federation's Director of Governance and Planning, Stephen Davey, and UNEP's Executive Director, Klaus Töpfer - both stressed the complementarity of the two organisations, which, Davey said, would provide "expertise and outreach".
"I'm really excited about what we can do together," Töpfer added.
While the focus of the memorandum of understanding is Africa, it is hoped that it will provide a model for cooperation in other vulnerable parts of the world.
The agreement is a recognition that, despite some advances in risk prevention, Africa remains a continent where the ability to cope with natural disaster is limited.
Floods, droughts and other national disasters are putting increasing pressure on already fragile lands, leading to the displacement of people and wildlife, as well as exacerbating soil erosion and the silting up of rivers, reservoirs and coastal waters.
"The objective is to mitigate the effects on the most vulnerable through integrated management of drought and flood disasters," says Bekele Geleta, Head of the International Federation's Africa Department.
The project, which will be implemented in close cooperation with regional economic groupings, will advocate the development of disaster-management and risk-reduction programmes through awareness-raising and capacity-building at local and national level.
Ten countries could benefit from the project: Algeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Zambia, Zimbabwe.