As Africa becomes increasingly urban, its risk profile is in rapid transition. This shift is interlinked with changing environmental conditions, including increasing climate variability and change. These factors, combined with fast-growing regional and continental mobility, have created new risk configurations that require inventive development and risk management strategies. They have also highlighted the urgency for grounded, integrated resilience research in risk-prone areas.
Recognising this imperative, Partners Enhancing Resilience for People Exposed to Risks (PERIPERI U) in partnership with UNESCO and the African Union Commission (AUC) organised a training workshop on Africa Risk Methods School (ARMS) II: Focus on urban geo-hazards in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 28 October to 2 November 2019. This workshop builds on the successes of ARMS I held in Dar es Salaam in 2018, and harnesses the expertise and vigour of the African Union’s newly appointed Africa Science and Technology Advisory Group on Disaster Risk Reduction (Af-STAG) and the Africa Youth Advisory Board (AYAB) mechanisms. These Pan-African structures have the potential to achieve trans-generational multiplier effects in disaster risk reduction across sectors and regions in Africa.
The course was opened by the Director of UNESCOAddis Ababa Office with the Bahir Dar University, the National Disaster Risk Management Centre Commissioner in Ethiopia, the City Government Fire, the African Union, UNISDR and Wfp.
During the training, the School offered courses in the following themes:
• Urban Geophysical Risks
• Urban Hydrological Risks
• Understanding the fundamentals of Disaster Risk
• Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction Science and Action
The courses are designed for emerging researchers with an interest in the socially and intellectually compelling fields of disasters, risk and resilience. From an interdisciplinary perspective, the courses are conceptualized to integrate the geophysical and social sciences.
They intend to provide a two-way immersive bridge so that attendees with skill-sets in the physical sciences can strengthen their understanding of the integrated socio-economic and political consequences of such geophysical hazards on urban centres and communities. Similarly, students and researchers in the social science with disaster, resilience or risk-related topics can fast-track their understanding of geophysical processes and risks.
Based on the indication of participants interests, two major groups were divided among the participants for Urban Geophysical risk and Urban Hydrological Risks. In addition, two common courses were offered for both groups: understanding disaster risk and integrated disaster risk reduction. This collaboration responded to the call for Africa’s scientists and researchers to work more closely with humanitarian action, development and disaster risk reduction practitioners, underlined by the 2015 global landmark agreements, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.