Significant Gaps in Disaster Warnings Across Central and West Africa

*Resilience scores across Central/Western Africa (highest to lowest overall Resilience Index)
*Resilience scores across Central/Western Africa (highest to lowest overall Resilience Index)

Central and West Africa faces significant challenges in disaster preparedness, with nearly two-thirds of people experiencing disasters receiving no advance warning, according to a new report.

The region ranks among the lowest on the World Risk Poll Resilience Index, underscoring its vulnerability to natural hazards and other shocks.

The report, ‘Resilience in a Changing World,’ produced by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, highlights substantial gaps in access to early warning systems across Central and West Africa. This region, along with other African subregions, is identified as among the least resilient globally. The findings are based on data from the World Risk Poll, which surveyed 147,000 individuals in 142 countries.

In 2023, 62% of those who encountered disasters in the past five years reported receiving no warnings, a troubling trend amid rising disaster frequencies attributed in part to climate change. The proportion of affected individuals rose from 26% in 2021 to 34% in 2023.

The report urges focused attention on improving warning system coverage in Central, Western, and Northern Africa, where disparities in education, rural living, and financial resilience contribute to higher rates of uninformed disaster exposure. The resilience score for Central and West Africa, stagnant at 44 out of 100 since 2021, underscores the urgent need for enhanced resilience strategies.

Mobile phones and digital early warning systems are identified as crucial tools to bridge coverage gaps, particularly as 77% of global respondents without warnings own mobile devices. The report advocates for targeted policies and community engagement to bolster disaster preparedness across vulnerable regions.

Dr. Kate Strachan, Senior Manager at ICLEI Africa, emphasized the critical role of climate resilience in urban settings, stressing its vital importance for livelihoods, infrastructure protection, and ecosystem preservation amidst escalating climate risks.

The findings call for coordinated efforts by policymakers and communities to fortify early warning systems, ensuring timely alerts and effective disaster responses in Central and West Africa and beyond.

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