The Africa Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action System (AMHEWAS) Programme developed by the African Union Commission (AUC) has been underscored as vital in reducing disaster losses by 2030. Diplomatic Corps and development partners lauded the programme for enhancing resilience to disasters in the Continent.
These key messages emanated from a breakfast event co-hosted by the Royal Danish Embassy in Addis Ababa and the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Ethiopia. The occasion was held at the Residence of Denmark in Addis Ababa on 8 August 2023.
During the event, the African Union Commission (AUC), through the Directorate of Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy (SEBE), briefed the delegations drawn from diplomatic missions and development partners in Addis Ababa on the progress in implementing AMHEWAS.
Mr Harsen Nyambe Nyambe, the Director of SEBE, appreciated the support of the Kingdom of Denmark to multi-hazard early warning and early action systems in Africa titled “AMHEWAS-enhanced reduction of risks related to food security -2024-2028 Project”. In his remarks, Mr Nyambe said, “I thank the Kingdom of Denmark’s support to the AMHEWAS Programme. The support could not have come at a better time when the AUC seeks to roll out the programme to all the 55-Member States and 5 Regional Economic Communities.”
Mr Gatkuoth Kai, the AUC Technical Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction, called on partners and donors to invest in multi-hazard early warning and action systems. Such steps would enhance preparedness at all levels, and contribute to the reduction of disaster losses. Increased investment in AMHEWAS will also catalyse the progress achieved by the pilot phase, which saw four situation rooms set up in Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Niamey and Abuja.
In her remarks, H.E. Kira Smith Sindbjerg, Denmark’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Djibouti, South Sudan and Sudan, thanked the AU Commission for their leadership and cooperation, as demonstrated by H.E. Ambassador Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (DARBE). Calling for increased support for climate adaptation, Ambassador Kira stated, “AMHEWAS is already responding to disaster risks, enabling coordination mechanisms for rapid response, and increasing resilience. The European Union, Italy, and Sweden are already supporting this programme, and Denmark and other European partners in this room are looking into new areas of collaboration with AMHEWAS.”
H.E. Jean Kamau, the Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya and the Permanent Representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said that establishing effective multi-hazard early warning systems is one of the most effective measures that governments can undertake to achieve substantial reduction of disaster losses. Referring to the recent AMHEWAS governance and coordination meeting in Namibia, Ambassador Kamau said, “These critical sessions marked a substantial step towards disaster preparedness and building resilience to climate-related and multi-hazards across Africa.”
Additionally, with a call for action for the upcoming Africa Climate Summit 2023 scheduled for September in Nairobi, H.E. Ambassador Kamau pointed out effective multi-hazard early warning systems as essential tools in enhancing climate action. “We can enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities to climate change by ensuring that they have the necessary information and tools and can prepare for hazardous climate-related events,” she added.
The attending delegations also called upon the AU Commission to document more best practices across Africa on effective multi-hazard early warning and early action systems.
Established under the auspices of the AUC and backed by Italy and UNDRR, the AMHEWAS Programme aspires to achieve a substantial reduction in disasters effects across the African continent. Sweden and UNDP extended their support to the initiative, by initially contributing to the assessment and development of the Africa Institutional and Operational Framework for Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action by the CIMA Research Foundation.
Additionally, the European Union’s Intra-ACP Natural Disaster Risk Programme played a catalytic role in supporting the African Union Commission’s disaster risk reduction activities. More countries, including Luxembourg, Denmark, and Norway, have since joined forces with existing contributors, bolstering a collaborative effort to strengthen anticipatory action and improve risk data management capabilities across the African continent.
The Africa Institutional and Operational Framework for Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Early Action was adopted by the African Union Heads of State and Government, setting in motion the implementation phase of the AMHEWAS Programme from 2022 onwards.