A new Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Technical Centre for Southern Africa, called DIMSUR was launched early this month in Maputo attended by high level government officials from Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and the Union of Comoros. The event gathered government officials, research institutions, and development partners together with the World Bank and the European Union, and United Nations (UN) agencies including the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UN-Habitat.
The establishment of this Centre is the result of a thorough participatory process facilitated by UN-Habitat, with UNISDR chairing the steering group, which started in April 2010 in Nairobi at the request of the four countries. It included the preparation of a feasibility study and several sub-regional consultations. A joint proposal of USD 900,000 to launch the DIMSUR was recently approved by the ACP-EU Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Programme, an initiative of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, funded by the European Union and managed by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery at the World Bank.
The Centre will be based within the premises of the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM) in Maputo and is mandated to provide DRR and CCA technical assistance and knowledge to address the countries’ needs with an aim to reduce the vulnerability and build the resilience of communities. The countries agreed that the DIMSUR should focus on Urban Resilience, a topic which needs much emphasis in southern Africa. The Centre will: (i) strengthen regional and inter-country partnerships; (ii) work as a platform of good practices, experiences and knowledge; (iii) maximise the use of existing regional expertise, especially within the academic sector; (iv) create synergies between CCA and DRR agendas; and (v) promote innovative programmes and activities and develop capacities to build resilience.
At the launch event, the UN Resident Coordinator in Mozambique, Ms Jennifer Topping, stressed the firm engagement of the United Nations in supporting the initiative. After a very encouraging statement made by the representative of the World Bank in Mozambique, Mr. Ivo Imparato, the Ambassador of the European Union Delegation in Mozambique, Mr. Paul Malin, expressed his satisfaction for representing the institution which is funding the establishment of the DIMSUR. “This is a particularly important Centre considering that natural disasters can compromise the development of southern Africa”, he said.
The Deputy National Director of the Office for Disaster Risk Management of Madagascar, Col. Charles Rambolarson, the Secretary-General of the Government of the Union of Comoros, Mr. Ali Said Mahomed and Ms. Grace Maseko, Hon. Minister of Local Government and Rural Development of Malawi, officially endorsed the initiative on behalf of their respective countries, stressing the urgent need for the DIMSUR to become rapidly operational.
The Hon. Minister of State Administration of Mozambique, Ms. Carmelita Rita Namashulua, officially opened the workshop and thanked all the stakeholders for making Maputo the choice for hosting the Centre. “The Centre will represent a major contribution in exchange of expert knowledge and technical assistance in response to natural disasters in the sub-region” she said.
After the official opening session, the workshop participants visited the premises of INAM where the Centre will be hosted. Discussions followed regarding the terms of reference and the overall management structure of the DIMSUR. A two-year work plan was presented and approved, and recruitment of the key personnel of the centre should start in the coming months.