According to the World Risk Report 2021, Mauritius has now become the 51st country with the highest disaster risk as compared to the 2020 ranking whereby the country was at the 53rd rank with the highest disaster risk. Hence the need to improve our overall ranking through the implementation of more adaptive strategies.
This statement was made, today, by the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Disaster Risk management, Dr Anwar Husnoo, on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2021, at the Municipal Council of Port Louis.
The event is organised by the Ministry of Local Government and Disaster Risk Management in collaboration with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre (NDRRMC). The Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano; the Minister of National Infrastructure and Community Development, Mr Mahendranuth Sharma Hurreeram; and the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms Christine Umutoni, were also present.
Dr Husnoo recalled that since the flash floods of 2013, Mauritius has taken several initiatives to have stronger institutional mechanisms so as to prevent and reduce disaster risks. These include: setting up of the NDRRMC to manage crisis and disasters at national level through the National Crisis Committee, the National Emergency Operations Command, and the Local Emergency Operations Command; and the setting up of the Inter-ministerial Council on Climate change under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.
The Vice-Prime Minister underscored that in view of the negative impacts of climate change and global warming, Government is more committed to take necessary adaptation actions as regards setting up of resilient infrastructure and implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies. He recalled that Mauritius has joined the Climate Emergency Declaration which advocates for society-wide mobilisation and promoting the call to declare a climate emergency.
He also dwelt on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Strategic Framework, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Policy, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Action Plan, which will guide the Republic of Mauritius' approach to disaster risk reduction and management for the next 10 years to 2030.
This National Strategic Framework, he underlined, is aligned with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and provides a pathway to achieve internationally agreed priorities for action and targets for disaster risk reduction by 2030. It incorporates the Republic's obligations and commitments under the African Union Programme of Action for the Sendai Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Climate Agreement, he said.
Furthermore, Dr Husnoo recalled that to facilitate implementations of key actions, Mauritius has benefitted from financial assistance from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative which is a global partnership that helps countries reduce disaster and climate risks as well as technical assistance from the United Nations.
In her address, Ms Umutoni highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of strengthening disaster risk reduction. She added that many countries are facing multiple crises simultaneously. Extreme weather events have risen dramatically over the past two decades and yet we have seen little progress on reducing climate disruption and environmental degradation, she said.
Ms Umutoni insisted that disaster risk is not the sole responsibility of local and national authorities and that COVID-19 has shown that systemic risk requires international cooperation. Political commitment at the highest level is needed to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, she stressed.
Handing over of certificates, shields of appreciation, and plants
On the occasion, Community Disaster Response Programme equipment and certificates were handed over to the Chairperson of the District Council of Pamplemousses by VPM Husnoo. Community volunteers at Congomah benefitted from the Community Disaster Response Programme from 01 to 03 October 2021 which comprised topics such as first aid, team building, rope handling, and fire extinguishing, amongst others.
Furthermore, shields of appreciation were handed over to Ms Umutoni, as well as representatives from the Mauritius Police Force, the Embassy of Japan, and the AFD for their dedicated support in the field of disaster management.
A symbolic handing over of plant to the Lord Mayor was also held in the context of the Local Carbon Sink Project.
International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2021
The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction was started in 1989, after a call by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. In 2009, the UNGA officially designated 13 October as the date to commemorate the Day.
The theme for the 2021 edition is "International cooperation for developing countries to reduce disaster risk and disaster losses." The Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health. The year 2021 promises to be a make or break year when it comes to delivering on the policy agenda agreed in 2015. Without real action on climate in the next ten years, extreme weather events will be overwhelming, especially for developing countries.
Several activities are being organised in Mauritius in that context, namely Community Disaster Response Programme at Congomah; Refresher Courses at Grand Sable, Old Grand Port, Residence La Cure, Tranquebar, Le Cornu St Croix, Canal Dayot, Pointe aux Sables, Trois Boutiques, Carreau Esnouff, Mare Tabac, 16e Mille, Nouvelle France, Gros Billot, Plaine Magnien, and Rose Belle; and sensitisation of people with disabilities from Centre D'Education et de Progrés des Enfants Handicapés at Argy and Quartier Millitaire.