|A step in the right direction|
|Monday, 20 August 2012 00:00|
The timing is perfect because it will increase Africa’s capacity to deal with disaster and humanitarian situations. The continent would be better placed to provide timely relief and aid to disaster-hit zones, save lives and lower climate risks. It means Africa’s poor would no longer have to wait and rely on external support in times of disasters, and sometimes die in waiting.
In any case, foreign aid usually takes several months before it arrives. Establishing the ARC in Ethiopia last month, the AU said this specialised agency would develop an agreement on a pooled risk insurance facility for droughts, floods, earthquakes and cyclones in Africa.
In the decision, the AU also asked the African Union Commission to convene a meeting of government experts in 2013 to consider and adopt the ARC establishment agreement.
The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction said the ARC was a welcome development, which would speed up the distribution of aid to affected regions in Africa.
It said the ARC will use satellite weather surveillance technology and software developed by the UN World Food Programme, to trigger fast-disbursing funds after calculating the cost of food needs for countries hit by drought.
African governments currently rely on international emergency aid, which commonly arrives between three to six months after the onset of the crisis.
The ARC will end all that, hopefully. Through it, costs of intervention will be calculated quickly, prompting the disbursement of funds to the affected governments within two to four weeks of drought detection, said the UNISDR.
Now the AU decision is important in a lot of ways. It comes to a continent that has always been at the forefront of climate change impacts.
The frequency and severity of droughts and floods in Africa has increased rapidly over time.
Last year, several millions of people in the Horn of Africa (countries including Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia etc) starved and were declared famine zones due to a severe drought.
Today, 10 million people in the Sahel region are faced with hunger and famine.
And over the past decade, more than 100 droughts have been recorded in Africa south of the Sahara, most of them with unbearably devastating impact.
In Zimbabwe, the debate about whether climate change is real has been replaced about the debate of what needs to be done.
While action on climate has been limited, average mean temperatures have increased by up to 0,7 degrees Celsius over the past century.
Precipitation has also come down significantly since the 1960s, most markedly over the lower half of the country including Matabeleland, Masvingo and the Midlands.
It is hoped the ARC will go a long way in addressing these and other issues in Africa in an effective manner.
God is faithful.