Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Natural and human induced hazards and disasters in Sub-Saharan Africa
25 August 2006
International Council for Science (ICSU)

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acnowledges the ICSU website as the source of this report:

Executive summary

According to a report submitted at the 28th General Assembly of the International Council for Science (ICSU) in 20051, “Natural and human-induced environmental hazards” are becoming more and more prominent. For example, the frequency of recorded natural disasters rose markedly during the last century from about 100 per decade in the years up to 1940, to nearly 2800 per decade during the 1990s. Africa is the only continent whose share of reported disasters has increased over the past decade2. There are several contributory factors to Africa’s high vulnerability to disasters, including the high rate of population growth, food insecurity, high levels of poverty, inappropriate use of natural resources, and failures of policy and institutional frameworks. Despite the huge negative impact that natural and manmade hazards have on Africa’s development, little is done to prevent them. Disaster prevention contributes to lasting improvement in safety, sustainable livelihoods and is essential for the integrated disaster management strategies1.

The ICSU Regional Office for Africa (ICSU ROA) Scoping Group on Natural and Human-Induced Hazards and Disasters proposes the establishment of a research, capacity building and outreach programme aimed at reducing the risk of disasters and increasing resilience. The main focus of the proposal is the development of a truly regional and inter-disciplinary approach to the understanding, prediction, assessment and mitigation of hazards and disasters. This is an ambitious undertaking and it needs the collaborative effort of the African scientific community to develop a comprehensive long term institutional and human capacity building initiative that will enable science to benefit society. In particular, it will require:
  1. building strong research and training institutions in Africa at national and regional levels;
  2. facilitating the exchange of scientific information and sharing of ideas across borders;
  3. strengthening the link between scientific research and policy making;
  4. promoting outreach activities to build resilience to disaster risk; and
  5. tapping the knowledge base of rural and urban communities.
ICSU ROA offers the opportunity to bring together existing institutions, appropriate partners (such as universities, scientific institutions, development agencies, humanitarian assistance agencies and NGOs), and policy makers to further develop and build on the activities identified in this strategy. Details of how ICSU ROA intends to achieve these objectives are outlined in this Draft science / work plan.

  1. Natural and human-induced environmental disasters. Report from the ICSU Global Scoping Group.

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