Southern Africa to benefit from risk reduction centreLilongwe, 18 December 2014 – A new regional centre for southern Africa will help develop resilience action plans, vulnerability mapping and disaster risk reduction as well as climate change adaptation planning. The Technical Centre for Risk Reduction Management, Sustainability and Urban Resilience in southern Africa (DiMSUR) was officially established in Lilongwe, Malawi, earlier this month. All four founding countries – Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and the Union of Comoros – and UN-Habitat, as facilitator of the centre, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the centre.

The Vice-President of Malawi, Mr. Saulos Klaus Chilima, greeted the Chairperson, Mr. Paul Chiunguezeni, the Commissioner and Principal Secretary of the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) in Malawi, and the other members of the Executive Board of the DiMSUR for an official signing ceremony during a meeting of the Executive Board.

Importance of the centre

At the event, Mr Chilima stressed the need for the DiMSUR: “The importance of establishment of this centre cannot be overemphasized. Our region continues to face a number of disasters such as floods, droughts and we need to jointly make efforts to ensure that we minimize the impact of these disasters.I am particularly pleased that the centre will also focus on urban risk reduction and resilience building. This is commendable because communities in urban areas also need to be protected from disasters.”

Southern Africa is threatened by a high degree of unplanned urbanization and settlement of disaster prone areas resulting into an increasing vulnerability of communities. To meet these challenges the DiMSUR will serve as a platform for exchange of experiences, knowledge transfer and pilot solutions. In the upcoming years, the members of the DiMSUR will continue to mobilize in-country capacities to strengthen the DiMSUR’s structure and ability to guarantee the success of the centre.

As the Vice-President emphasized: “Team work has been the central pillar towards achieving this success and we should endeavor to work collaboratively and display the commitment that is required to make the DiMSUR the success we want it to be.” The Executive Board of the DiMSUR has already taken significant steps towards the success of the centre. The candidate for the position as Executive Director has been selected and Oxfam will be contacted as representative for the Civil Society to join the Executive Board. Mozambique, as one of the founding countries, has accepted to host the centre and to provide office space for the Executive Director. In the meantime, the representative of the Union of Comoros, Colonel Ismael Mogne Daho, has offered to host the Executive Director until the premises in Mozambique is available.

The support of all the representatives of the countries and the academia has been made clear. The DiMSUR is an open institution and engagement of other countries in the sub-region is envisaged. Further participation of experts in the field of urban resilience, disaster risk management and climate change adaptation is possible through the Consultative Group of the Centre.