March 20, 2023 , 18:39 pm

DiMSUR news, African news

After more than 23 years of alarming impacts in southern Africa, derived from the various natural catastrophes experienced over this time, solutions are still a long way from being achieved. Events have intensified in the last 5 years, where cyclones such as Idai , Kennet , Batsirai , Ana, Gombe and Freddy have had a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of many countries in the SADC region. The last one was Freddy (category 3 – February and March 2023), was about 35 days active, with winds of over 230 km/h, is considered lately, one of the worst systems experienced in the region, due to the fact that the affected countries have not yet recovered from the great destruction left by Idai (category 4 – March 2019). Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi are some of the countries that recorded major losses and damage and there are still chances that it will be reborn again in the coming days, however, to date, there are data that reiterate that the damage caused by Idai, may have been worse. 
Cyclone Freddy (category 3) demonstrated, in a long and overwhelming way, that the efforts that have been made are relevant, but do not solve the problems caused by natural devastation, which is absolutely inevitable. The change in the paradigm and in the way of thinking of governments and communities, directing towards early actions Warning and early action , could not only increase awareness but also enrich everyone’s preparedness in these situations. In Mozambique and Malawi, to this date, the numbers and findings on losses and damage continue to rise uninterruptedly, although the cyclone stopped its impact action almost 1 week ago. In this context, it is clear that the actions taken were remiss because preparation remains deficient, communities are slow to heed warnings, infrastructures are obsolete and without maintenance and prior notice does not have the necessary impact to cause the timely withdrawal of populations, locations considered at risk. 
In the province of Zambezia (Mozambique), where Cyclone Freddy made landfall on its second entry into the country, the numbers of losses and damages are rising daily while the impact findings are being made, however these same data are lower than those recorded by Malawi.
In the year 2022, in the execution of a project led by UN Habitat with funds from the Adaptation Fund, DiMSUR suggested the launch of a regional and international campaign under the motto Southern Africa Deserves Better . This powerful slogan aimed to promote the work done in 4 African countries affected by similar natural disasters, namely Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and the Union of the Comoros. The slogan, which was created in the form of an emblem to be used by institutions that support the cause, was intended to invite other countries in the region to join the technical centre dedicated to disaster risk reduction, sustainability and urban resilience. DiMSUR is available for all SADC members (16 countries), with the objective to change the discourse and mentality, on how countries should act to position themselves in the face of the severe impacts of events generated by climate change. It would be easier to advocate for better preparedness and more effective early warning, leaving safe shelters and mitigation measures for emergencies, if the entire region works in a communal manner. 
During the 7th Board Meeting of DiMSUR, in March 2022, in the city of Blantyre – Malawi, DiMSUR executive team suggested that regional government efforts could be aligned in order to start preparing a set of solutions for the following rainy season, which was expected to start in November 2022. These solutions would be DiMSUR’s contribution to improve the capacities of countries and were divided into 3 distinct areas, namely:
1. Community training in matters of disaster risk reduction, sustainability and urban resilience: in this chapter, using participatory planning tools, the main objective was to provide intensive training to local communities in the perception and identification of disasters, debate on possible solutions and prioritization of solutions to implement for the various existing problems. This is a process that DiMSUR develops with the partner UN Habitat and whose experience with these programs has already been successfully applied in more than 30 African cities.
2. The creation of a technical and scientific repository of information to allow the archiving and sharing of experiences and lessons learned by the governments and communities of countries in Southern African: with this initiative DiMSUR intends to promote the interaction of its members with scientific and research entities, preserving and sharing the lessons learned with all countries that can benefit from this knowledge, using these experiences to improve actions to mitigate natural disasters, taking into account their reality and the context in which they are inserted.
3. The internal capacity building of the region’s governments in matters of disaster risk reduction: using this pillar, DiMSUR intends that the governments of the SADC countries improve their internal capacity to identify, discuss and solve natural disasters, in a more sustainable way and that in recent years, not only the number of events has increased, but also the severity of their impacts
The projection that DiMSUR made in March 2022, based on the findings and data collected from previous years and on the continuous observation of the events that occurred throughout 2022 and on the analysis made by the partners who are dedicated to monitoring, control, management and response, of the climatic events that occur in the Indian Ocean, predicted that the events for the rainy season 2022-2023 would be provided with some severity and that the impacts could be overwhelming for some countries.
According to the modelling followed and the partners assertive forecasts, it was possible for the members of DiMSUR, Madagascar and Mozambique, to manage the impacts of bad weather in a controlled manner, considering their limitations of means. However the impact in Malawi was more violent and the early warning did not have the expected results due to the difficulties of means, but also to the political-administrative and socio-economic constrains existing in the country. These difficulties led to a communication difficulty that culminated in a slow and ineffective early warning, causing much loss and damage in the affected areas, much more than in Madagascar and Mozambique.
DiMSUR is an intergovernmental technical centre, which was created by UN Habitat, institution that served as DiMSUR´s secretariat until the end of 2021. After this date, the centre selected its own executive team that planned a technical, apolitical and non-profit institution, according to the assumptions of its creation. Through its local, national, regional and international partnerships, it leveraged a long-term mandate that aimed to enhance the best capacity building of the countries in the region, the storage and sharing of their experiences through cross-fertilization actions and the creation of a repository of information and the integration of all relevant actors for disaster risk management and disaster risk reduction. 
In the SADC RVAA 2022 report, DiMSUR is mentioned on the Disasters Impact chapter, as an organization that has invested in the training of municipalities, communities, neighbourhoods and local governments, in matters of disaster risk management, sustainability and urban resilience, for the success of the Regional Resilience Plan. In this report, DiMSUR already mentioned at the end of the chapter, the need to change the paradigm of city design, starting to design them with the communities and no longer for them, as a way of guaranteeing the appropriation of the final product of the executed plans, by the end users. 
In late 2022, DiMSUR was selected as part of the winning consortium of an UNDRR project, together with institutions such as the CIMA Foundation, WASCAL, RCMRD and the University of Stellenbosch, which through funds from the Italian government, are creating a NOE (Network of Centres of Excellence ), with a view to supporting activities of early warning, anticipatory action and disaster risk reduction in Africa. 
In January 2023, signed the agreement with Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), which is the largest asian centre devoted to developing safer communities and generating sustainable development through disaster risk reduction. With this partnership, DiMSUR intends to leverage African institutions with the capabilities and years of experience that asian countries have in managing extreme weather events. 
Taking all of this into account…
It is urgent that the countries of the region join forces and their governments consider the extreme situation of this rainy season (2022 – 2023) as an important warning, which today may not seem relevant, but if it is studied in detail it is possible to perceive that the events has been worsening exponentially, causing in the same year a number of extreme cyclones, never seen before. In the last 23 years, impacts, frequency, losses and damages have increased sharply and with this behaviour, it is clear that no country in the region is safe and exempt, to the point of not having to worry about the existing climatic events. 
Southern Africa Deserves Better is a slogan that should promote partnership between governments, communities, cooperation partners, donors, academia and civil society in general, in favour of structured and concerted action that can reduce losses and damages, that may occur in subsequent years if no action is taken. DiMSUR exists to be the tool that can promote this initiative and create, through a powerful slogan like this, a perfect and fully-functional early warning campaign, to change history for the African continent in terms of its ability to manage extreme natural events.


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