Celebrating 5 Years of Innovation and Collaboration at African Risk Capacity

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Five years ago, in November 2012, eighteen African governments met in South Africa to take action against the impacts of natural disasters that repeatedly affect the continent, driving countless lives into destitution. Under the umbrella of the African Union, African sovereigns formed a continental institution dedicated to creating more effective, efficient, and equitable solutions to natural disaster risks across the continent. Through solidarity and innovation, African governments agreed to embark on a transformative journey together: to shift from responding to disasters after they strike to preparing for perils before they devastate the most vulnerable populations.

This is how the African Risk Capacity (ARC) was born as a Specialized Agency of the African Union.

Signing the ARC Establishment Treaty, November 2012Signing the ARC Establishment Treaty, November 2012

This month, we celebrated ARC’s five-year anniversary, and there is much to celebrate from a half-decade of tireless work. We celebrate the visionary work of our predecessors who built this institution with a strong foundation and a bold vision to always grow, innovate, and collaborate. We celebrate the continued support of the World Food Programme, which provided us fertile soil to grow from a seed of an idea into a partnered institution striving for a food secure Africa together. We celebrate the new partnerships we forged and the relationships we nurtured with regional economic communities, multilateral institutions and banks, international organizations, NGOs, the insurance industry, and academia to build comprehensive and inclusive approaches to climate risks in Africa. We celebrate the unwavering support, faith, and guidance of our donors – the United Kingdom, Germany, the Rockefeller Foundation, Canada, France, Sweden, the United States, and Switzerland – which helped propel us to where we are today.

Today, and every day, we celebrate the 2.1 million people we served when harvests failed, the US $34 million paid out which demonstrated the proof of the ARC concept, the US $54 million that African governments pooled together and budgeted from their own limited resources to spearhead this African innovation, and our 33 Member States and the African Union who steer us to build the best solutions for Africa.

157,000 people received assistance in Niger from ARC in 2015 following poor rainfall.

157,000 people received assistance in Niger from ARC in 2015 following poor rainfall.

As we work towards the first decade of our journey, the next five years promise to show deeper technical and financial collaboration to protect more lives and livelihoods against more frequent and intense natural disasters. We will use the coming years to explore the possibility of offering risk management products for additional perils, such as for public health outbreaks and epidemics, floods, and tropical cyclones, to ARC Member States. We look forward to heralding a future where Africa is fully equipped with the right tools, skills and systems in place to protect its populations against the uncertainties of climate change and other disasters, and we will achieve this with a steadfast commitment to this vision, hand-in-glove with our partners.