African Union member states have been urged to ratify the treaty for the AU’s disaster management wing, the African Risk Capacity (ARC).
ARC governing board chairperson Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed that only eight out of the 34 founding members had ratified the treaty aimed at insulating members against the impacts of natural disasters.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala was speaking in Addis Ababa on Saturday, during the high level sideline meeting of the ARC, ahead of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union
The AU established ARC in 2012 to help member states respond to the extreme weather events, that are a leading cause of forced migrations. Under the arrangement, member states pay annual premiums and are in turn compensated whenever disasters strike.
The compensations help the affected populations revive their livelihoods, thus stopping them from migrating as a survival mechanism. Forced migrations often trigger other consequences like conflicts over resources.
Thousands of people from Africa have also been known to cross borders to escape the consequences of natural disasters, like floods and prolonged droughts. The migrations have put Africa on a collision course, especially with Europe, the preferred destination of many.
The theme for this year’s AU summit is; Refugees, Returnees and the Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.
Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Gambia, are among the countries that have ratified the ARC treaty. Others are Guinea, Gambia, Togo and Madagascar.
ARC Director General Mohammed Beavogui explained at length the critical role of the agency, noting that though Africa experienced minimal natural disasters globally, it suffered the most from the phenomena annually.
Dr Beavogui said that two countries, among them Rwanda, had committed to ratify the treaty before the end of this year. He expressed hope that many more members would come on board, sooner rather than later.
Representatives of the Swedish and Japanese government re-affirmed their commitment to helping Africa cope with natural disasters. Japan has suffered some of the worst natural disaster in human history and have a lot of lessons to offer to the rest of the world.