Improving risk reduction in Central Africa through mutual cooperation

Published: 24 February 2015 8:25 CET

By: Mirabelle Enaka Kima, IFRC

The signing in February 2015 of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), is the realization of an established cooperation between the two institutions to improve disaster prevention and response in the region.

The common interest expressed by IFRC and ECCAS in issues pertaining to emergency management is not only justified in a context characterized by violent crises with their disastrous humanitarian consequences, but also and especially by the many challenges faced by humanitarian actors when deploying response teams on the ground and in the provision of relief materials.

"Central Africa is one of the regions of the continent, which for several years, has been hit by crisis after crisis,” said Alasan Senghore, director, IFRC Africa. “Paradoxically, it is also the region which receives the least support from the international community and other humanitarian partners. It is therefore imperative for leaders of the region to work together to develop policies for regional openness and solidarity. Their contribution in creating an environment that facilitates the free movement of teams and relief supplies in response to emergencies will be key in enhancing efforts made so far in the battle against vulnerabilities in the region.”

The cooperation is aimed primarily at creating a framework for dialogue, by facilitating the exchange of experiences and expertise, coordination and resource mobilization, with the view of increasing the capacity of technical teams to respond more quickly and efficiently during emergencies.

In addition, the MoU strives to rely on the countries of the region, through advocacy and the multiplication of opportunities to consult and dialogue, to implement and apply legislation on disaster preparedness and response within each government. The absence of disaster laws are major obstacles to be overcome.

Moreover, IFRC and ECCAS intend to support Central African countries in meeting challenges linked to the development and implementation of laws to inform and guide actions in the field of disaster management. The signing of this partnership is one of a long process of stages which began years ago.

"Faced with all these challenges in the sub-region, it is only obvious that ECCAS lauds this initiative by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, to work together in alleviating, to the greatest possible extent, the sufferings of our people,"   emphasized Ahmad Allam-Mi, Secretary General of ECCAS.

Today, IFRC further strengthened its support of the sub-regional strategy by hosting a workshop on disaster law in Libreville in early February 2015. This workshop brought together representatives of ECCAS member states and focal points of disaster management of regional National Red Cross Societies. The meeting allowed for the sharing of best practices on the issue of disaster law and led to discussions from which commitments and proposals were made.

In light of the conclusions of the workshop, it is clear that a new dynamic has been created in the region which will produce harmonized action from a stronger regional solidarity in the coming years.