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S. African States Scale Up Disaster Preparedness

Southern African nations band together to scale up disaster preparedness - UN

Eight Southern African and Indian Ocean nations have joined forces to participate in a United Nations-backed plan to combat the devastating effects of natural disasters such as floods and cyclones.

This year in the region, the livelihoods of one million people were destroyed by flood and wind damage caused by heavy rain and cyclones.

At the "Emergency Preparedness and Response Workshop" sponsored by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) earlier this month in Johannesburg, eight nations - the Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa - decided to bolster regional cooperation.

In a draft Declaration of Intent, emergency responders from each country agreed to share information to respond to disasters, establish regional rapid response teams and develop measures allowing for the free movement of emergency personnel and relief materials in the region.

They also called on the leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to support the implementation of these recommendations.

Given the high rates of HIV throughout the region, the group also noted that HIV prevention and care must be integrated into emergency preparedness and response.

"This year, many governments in the region have taken steps in their own countries to be better prepared for the current rainy and cyclone season, in particular undertaking contingency planning for disasters," said Kelly David, head of OCHA's Regional Office for Southern Africa.

"And now they are looking beyond that to how they can help each other and draw on international resources and technical expertise to better manage the impacts they all face from natural hazards."


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