Launch of the 2016 World Disasters report in Senegal: A strengthened partnership to produce future resilience

Publié: 18 octobre 2016 15:05 CET

By Moustapha Diallo, IFRC

“Never the world has known so much suffering since the Second World War. The number of people forced to leave or flee their homes due to insecurity, lack of sources of income, difficulties in accessing housing, to feed or take care of their families. No one has ever seen as much.”

This statement was made by Elhadj As Sy, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), during the launch of the 2016 World Disasters Report (WDR), which took place in Dakar, the capital of Senegal on 13 October.

In his address to a gathering of senior officials from international organizations, UN agencies, regional platforms, the private sector, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the media and representatives of civil society organizations, As Sy asserted “humanity goes wrong. If you turn the globe today and point your finger in a geographical point, you will see so much suffering. Suffering due to conflict, but also to climate change, drought, flood or disaster as the current one in Haiti, at the basin of Lake Chad, in Southern Africa”.

The world today is facing unprecedented crises and growing challenges. With 98.5 million people affected by disasters in 2015 and 65.3 million forcibly displaced, humanitarian needs are rising steadily, and outstripping resources. In this context, the 2016 World Disasters Report states that investing in resilience is the best method to protect lives, livelihoods and the dignity of the world’s most vulnerable people.

In connection with the report’s findings, David Sanderson, one of the editors, highlighted the need to do things differently and to better ensure strong and resilient communities.

For Mabigue Ngom, a panellist during a roundtable discussion to mark the launch of the WDR, and also UNFPA regional director, one subject that demands everyone’s attention is the human drama in Lake Chad. Six million people are severely food insecure in the area, while more than 2.6 million have been forced to flee their homes as the results of violence. “With so much suffering, we should develop a paradigm shift in the way we operate.”

“Building resilience is an imperative for all of us it is the only sustainable way forward,” added Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC Regional Director for Africa. “We have small programmes that paid off but we need additional resources to scale up.”

According to the report, despite broad recognition that investing in resilience before a disaster can save lives and money, only 40 cents in every 100 US dollars spent on international aid is invested in preparedness and measures to reduce disaster risk.

Two panel debates were organized during the launch. The first one focusing on the findings of the report, brought together Elhadj As Sy, IFRC Secretary General, Fred Pearce, Associated Expert at Wetlands International, Janot Mendler de Suarez, Technical adviser at Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Patrick David, Regional Director a.i. at FAO and Njack Kane, Director of External Relations, John A. Kufuor Foundation/Intervalle and member of the One Billion Coalition Initiative. 

The second on, “achieving resilience in Western Africa,” involved Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, IFRC Africa Regional Director, Mabigué Ngom, UNFPA Regional Director, Benoit Collin, Head of Regional Office for West and North Africa at ECHO, and Cheikh Gueye at Enda Tiers monde.

The debates were passionnate, and for As Sy, “it was important to spark this kind of dialogue”.

A point on which all agreed was “the need to work along a continuum - of preparedness, early response, recovery and resilience building,” and also the importance of multilateral partnerships.

“We cannot prevent the monsoon sand rainy seasons arriving, we cannot prevent drought cycles from time to time. However, together we can work to ensure that when these seasons do arrive, they do not turn into disasters,” said As Sy.

Building on the report, the IFRC is also calling on partners to support and join the One Billion Coalition for Resilience – a global initiative to support communities around the world to take action to strengthen their safety, health and wellbeing. Launched in late 2015, the 1BC seeks to build a broad coalition of partners from across all sectors to support 1 billion people by 2025.

Prior to the launch of the report, As Sy participated to the workshop on food security and resilience in the Sahel region where he made closing remarks. During his stay in Senegal, the IFRC Secretary General was also granted an audience with his Excellency, President Macky Sall.

Accompanied by Eva Marie Coll Seck, the Minister of Health, and a delegation comprising by the President of the Senegalese Red Cross, the IFRC Regional Africa Director and the Head of Sahel Cluster, As Sy, has had the opportunity to address a number of humanitarian issues in Senegal and the sub-region, and the role of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.