Making Risk Assessment Work for Countries Across West Africa

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News
  • 2017•03•16     Burkina Faso

    Climate change represents one of the most serious challenges facing Africa in the 21st century. Across the west of the continent, there is an urgent need to develop effective adaptation and mitigation measures, a need that led to the creation of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL). Through WASCAL, the expertise of ten West African countries — as well as that of Germany — is pooled to create science-based services. The risk assessment service element is an essential tool for enhancing the resilience of human and environmental systems to climate change and increasing climatic variability.

    But how can WASCAL’s Risk Assessment Service best serve its national partners? That was the main focus of the Disaster Risk Assessment Workshop, held at the WASCAL Competence Center (CoC) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, at the end of February 2017. The two-day event brought together stakeholders from Benin and Ghana, as well as from Burkina Faso, with both national agencies and local organisations and committees represented. Also in attendance were three experts from the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), section head Dr Fabrice Renaud, and associate academic officers Dr Yvonne Walz and Dr Erik Tambo.

    For the past five years, UNU-EHS has led the risk assessment component of the research programme and has been working in partnership with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to develop tools and methods to assess natural hazards — in particular vulnerability to and risk of floods and droughts — with a focus on three case study areas in West Africa: Dano in Burkina Faso, Vea in Ghana, and Dassari in Benin.For this two-day workshop, Dr Renaud presented the findings of this five-year research project. This presentation was then followed by questions and a lively discussion on the implications and how this new information can be used for enhanced collaboration between different countries and actors.

    For this two-day workshop, Dr Renaud presented the findings of this five-year research project. This presentation was then followed by questions and a lively discussion on the implications and how this new information can be used for enhanced collaboration between different countries and actors.

    Also at the workshop, Dr Walz presented a draft version of an upcoming handbook on Risk Assessment in West Africa. This will provide practical guidelines for assessing vulnerability and risk to climate-related hazards, while also serving as a communication tool between countries.

    For more information, see the news story on the UNU-EHS website.