By Neema Atemi

The world’s climate is constantly changing and many countries have and still manage to stand strong despite the havoc that comes with disasters. Unfortunately for a majority of African countries, the proper technology to deal with natural disasters is still lacking. This leaves many in the dark with little to no hope of finding a light.

The African Development Bank approved of the African Disaster Risk Financing Programme (ADRF) the organisation’s first climate risk management programme. ADRF aims at enhancing proper action and solutions when faced with natural disasters caused by climate change.

The programme will encourage member countries in the region to evaluate the risks and costs of climatic mishaps. They will be enabled to have better responses to disasters and better adaptation methods which will help with alleviating the adverse effects from the loss of sources of income. For example, small holder farmers who rely on their produce for income face the direct impacts of disasters such as droughts, which halt their productivity and income all together. As for the poor, this programme will act as a safety net. When disaster strikes, they will have a source of sustenance to turn to while they pick up on their lives again. Poorer countries with greater need will be given first priority with funding.

The ADRF programme will provide insurance that will cover the disaster risks to member countries. The programme’s initial phase is set to start running from 2019 – 2030. Already, nine countries have come out to express their interest in the initiative; Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

Africa is more susceptible to natural disasters namely flooding, droughts, and tropical cyclones, among others. Inadequate funds and misplacements of funds does little to address the issues and solve the problems. Says Atsuko Toda, Bank Director for Agricultural Finance and Rural Development.

Ms. Toda adds that the, the programme will come in as a “significant step to help reduce exposure and vulnerability of African countries, creating a system to absorb, adapt and aid recovery” from such disasters.

The programme will uphold devices to promote disaster responses such as sovereign parametric index-based insurance. These will ensure that funds are distributed in time for potential risks giving communities time to prepare. With this in place, it is estimated that for every 1USD used, the programme will save up to 4.40USD which can then be used in carrying out relief measures even for responses that take place 6 months after the said disasters.

The bank and ADRF programme are co-operation with the ‘High 5’ priorities, more specifically “Feed Africa” and “Improving the Quality of Life of Africans” as well as being a part the bank’s Climate Change Action Plan II (2016 – 2020) policy.

Africa is rich with resources and only needs its people to be empowered towards its potential greatness. This programme is a big step towards this vision.