SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre to begin work soon

SANF 23 no 11 – By Clarkson Mambo

SADC is progressing towards operationalizing the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre as Member States respond to calls to fast-track the formal establishment of the institution.

The SADC Council of Ministers which met earlier this year in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) urged Member States to ensure that the Centre is set up in the shortest possible time due to the increasing disaster risk in the region.

Since then, six Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have signed the Inter-Governmental Memorandum of Agreement to operationalize the Centre.

The United Republic of Tanzania was the first country to sign the agreement in February 2023, followed by the DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Eleven of the 16 SADC Member States are required to sign a protocol or agreement before it enters into force.

The SADC Committee of Ministers Responsible for Disaster Management met in May this year and again urged the region to accelerate disaster preparedness and build resilience to address the impacts of natural disasters.

This follows the loss of over 2,000 lives between March and May this year and destruction of property and infrastructure after the region received heavy rains owing to climate change and variability.

More than 2,500 people are still missing as a result of flooding and mudslides that occurred recently in some parts of the SADC region.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior and Security of the DRC, Peter Kazadi Kankonde, who is the Chairperson of the Committee, said it is imperative for the region to increase its preparedness against climate change and natural disasters, and seek to strengthen disaster risk management.

He applauded the region for developing the Regional Multi-Hazard Planning Framework 2022-2030 and the related Contingency Plan 2022-2023 that will guide the development of annual plans based on current, sector-specific, disaster risk projections.

These legal instruments will inform the work of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC), which is headquartered in Nacala, Mozambique.

The SHOC was launched on 21 June 2021 by the host President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of the Republic of Mozambique, and Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, who was then Chairperson of SADC.

The Centre is part of the region’s disaster risk management and resilience-building efforts, and will have responsibility for coordinating humanitarian and emergency-response support to Member States.

Operations of the Centre will be financed by the SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy and Fund (2016-2030) whose aim is to strengthen coordination for effective disaster preparedness, response, and resilience.

The SADC region has put in place other complementary response mechanisms to assist in matters relating to disaster management, in addition to the SHOC.

These initiatives include a Climate Data Processing Centre and the SADC Online Vulnerability Atlas developed by the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (RVAA) Programme.

The climate data centre is expected to provide timely early warning information on floods, drought and other potential disasters, while the Atlas is designed to store and share data from the 16 SADC Member States on food, nutrition, and livelihoods security.

SADC is also developing a regional database to record losses from disasters through a Regional Disaster Risk Information System, while plans are in motion to establish a regional risk insurance scheme.

Southern Africa has experienced an increase in weather-related phenomena in the last five years, including droughts and tropical cyclones such as Desmond, Enawo, Idai, Kenneth, Eloise and Cheneso.

Between February and March 2023, the region was hit by Cyclone Freddy which affected Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, and is the longest lasting tropical cyclone to date.

The impact of the adverse weather conditions has been widespread in the eastern part of the region, resulting in loss of life, injury, disease and other negative effects on human, physical, mental, and social wellbeing, as well as damage to property and infrastructure, loss of services, social and economic disruption, and environmental degradation.

This has hampered regional efforts to address poverty, food security and infrastructure development.

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

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