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A regional approach towards addressing the adverse effects of climate change is needed owing to the interconnectivity of national and regional systems. This was one of the resolutions of the first COMESA Resilience Academy that took place in Lusaka, Zambia, 28 – 30 November 2017.

The aim of the three- day forum was to build the capacity of COMESA Member States to adapt and thrive in the face of stresses and shocks that are increasingly becoming common owing to climatic changes.

The Academy which is an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation and COMESA brought together senior officials from ministries responsible for planning, disaster management and mitigation units, agriculture, environment and health as well as stakeholders who play a key role in mainstreaming resilience and domestication of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

At the opening of the Academy, the Vice President of Zambia Mrs. Inonge Wina welcomed the initiative as it provides an opportunity for developing a regional framework to guide all resilience building activities.

“I’m confident that the forum shall come up with a blue print that integrates all our past achievements and future aspirations into one overall and coherent resilience building agenda,” Mrs. Wina said in a speech delivered by Local Government Minister, Hon. Vincent Mwale.

Lack or weak resilience found mostly in poor developing countries, she noted, robbed the region the capacity and resources for development as most funds are diverted to disaster recovery.

“Building adaptive capacities across the region was the surest way to achieve development despite the ever-present threats,” she noted.

Currently, the COMESA region does not have a common framework for managing risks, shocks and stresses even as the frequency and intensity of loss and damage occasioned by climate change and other external factors continues to rise.

In his statement, COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya cautioned that although the advancement of globalization and regional integration, trade and investments, positively contributed to interconnectivity of national and regional systems, instability in one part of the system would have a global ripple effect.

“For instance, the recent global financial crises started in the US but had a contagion effect on everyone,” he said. He cited air travel, surface and maritime transport connection as catalysts in the internationalization of diseases such as influenza, Ebola, bird flu, swine fever, plague and plant pests.

“Not only should the national systems be resilient in themselves, but the interconnected regional systems must also have inbuilt resilience of their own,” Ngwenya said in the statement presented by the COMESA Climate Change Advisor Dr Mclay Kanyangarara.

The Associate Director at the Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office, Ms. Betty Kibaara told the delegates that her organization has invested more than half a billion US Dollars globally in partnerships and initiatives to help individuals, communities and countries build their economic, social and climate resilience.

She noted that as resilience is built, entities become more capable of preventing or mitigating the stress and shocks and are better placed to respond to situations which can be predicated.

She said: “Adopting a resilience framework also helps develop greater capacity to recover from a crisis, learn from it and achieve revitalization.”

At the end of the academy, the participants were able to identify gaps and opportunities of resilience mainstreaming at national and regional levels and subsequently as well as develop back-to-office action plans.