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SADC and UNOCHA Forge Collaborative Response to Climate Crisis and El Niño Impacts

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) convened a high-level meeting on 21st February 2024 at the SADC Secretariat Head Offices in Gaborone, Botswana, in a concerted effort to address the pressing humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis and recurring El Niño phenomena in the Southern African region.

Ms. Angele Makombo N’Tumba, Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration of SADC, and Ms. Reena Ghelani, newly appointed Climate Crisis Coordinator for the El Niño/La Niña Response at UNOCHA, led discussions aimed at bolstering coordinated efforts to mitigate the humanitarian impacts of these environmental challenges.

Ms. Ghelani, appointed to her role by the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, emphasized UNOCHA’s commitment to bridging the gap between humanitarian efforts and developmental activities.

She pledged support to facilitate strategies for enhanced access to climate financing in the SADC region and underscored the importance of investing in renewable energy and long-term preventative measures against El Niño.

Commending the region’s proactive efforts in monitoring and evaluating El Niño impacts, Ms. Ghelani urged further investment in sustainable and resilient strategies.

She stressed the necessity for collaboration among stakeholders to exchange experiences in disaster mitigation, enhance emergency response mechanisms, and develop comprehensive training programs.

Ms. Makombo N’Tumba highlighted the vulnerability of SADC member states to disasters exacerbated by El Niño and climate change, citing severe heatwaves, cyclones, wildfires, floods, droughts, erratic rains, and health epidemics as recurring challenges.

She urged UNOCHA to collaborate closely with the region, particularly in evidence generation to address escalating humanitarian needs and food security crises.

Both parties reiterated their commitment to renewing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2014, which forms the basis for streamlining efforts and ensuring an effective response to disasters.

They emphasized the significance of continued collaboration, particularly in light of initiatives such as the Disaster Risk Management Strengthening in Southern Africa (DRMSS) Project, funded by the European Union (EU), which plays a pivotal role in enhancing disaster risk management and preparedness capacity in the region.

The meeting concluded with a shared commitment to strengthening regional coordination capacity in disaster response, providing training to stakeholders, and facilitating El Niño preparedness and response initiatives.

SADC and UNOCHA affirmed their strategic partnership in addressing the humanitarian impacts of the climate crisis, underscoring the urgency of concerted action to safeguard the well-being of affected communities in the Southern African region.

Additional source: SADC Secretariat

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