No payout for East African countries when disaster strikes

Saturday February 16 2019

Food aid for residents of Kenya’s Marsabit

Food aid for residents of Kenya’s Marsabit County on January 30, 2019. Countries in East Africa have not signed the African Risk Capacity treaty. PHOTO | NMG 

CHARLES OMONDI
By CHARLES OMONDI
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When a long drought hit the Sahelian states of Niger, Mauritania and Senegal in 2017, the African Union came to their aid with an over $25 million insurance compensation package.

None of the East African Community member states, in similar circumstances, would have attracted the same support.

The reason? None of them has ratified the African Risk Capacity’s (ARC) treaty that seeks to help the AU member states become more resilient to extreme weather events.

ARC director-general Mohammed Beavogui disclosed that two countries including Rwanda, had committed to ratifying the treaty before the end of this year. He expressed the hope that many more members would soon come on board.

The claim payouts are made by ARC’s affiliated mutual insurance company, ARC Ltd based on an in-house disaster monitoring and loss calculation software called the Africa RiskView.

Eligibility

According to a report tabled this month in Addis Ababa at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, only eight of the 34 ARC founding members have ratified its treaty, paying annual premiums and thus being eligible for compensation should natural disaster strike.

Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal, Togo and Madagascar have all ratified the treaty of the special agency.

The AU established the ARC in 2012 to help member states respond to the extreme weather events that are a leading cause of forced migrations.

In 2017, ARC signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Development Bank, with which it now works closely in insurance finance management.

The Sahel region, including northern Senegal, often suffers severe droughts every few years, hence their unsurprising lead in embracing the ARC treaty. The region was still reeling from the effects of the latest drought, which has left at least five million people in need of food aid.

The theme for this year’s AU summit was, Refugees, Returnees and the Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa, hence the emphasis on the causes of forced migrations.

ARC operates under an eight-member governing board, whose current chairperson is Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The current board was elected by the Conference of the Parties in Dakar, Senegal on February 27, 2013.

The board members boast of varying expertise with five and their alternates elected for staggered terms from members that have expressed intent to take out insurance and taking into account geographical representation.

Though Africa suffers from fewer extreme weather events compared to other parts of the world, the continent’s populations remain the most vulnerable to natural disasters.

Dr Beavogui explained at length the critical role of ARC, noting that though Africa experienced minimal natural disasters annually, it suffered the most from the phenomena globally.

Representatives of the Swedish and Japanese government at the AU summit re-affirmed their commitment to helping Africa cope with natural disasters. Japan has suffered some of the worst natural disaster in human history and has a lot of lessons to offer to the rest of the world.

ARC operates under an eight-member governing board, whose current chairperson is Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The current board was elected by the Conference of the Parties in Dakar, Senegal on February 27, 2013.

The board members boast of varying expertise with five and their alternates elected for staggered terms from members that have expressed intent to take out insurance and taking into account geographical representation.

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