Ethiopia – An African Leader In Disaster Risk Management

Risk management is high on the agenda of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition launched by G8 leaders in May 2012. It’s part of a paradigm shift from managing disasters to managing risks, which is central to the New Alliance’s commitment to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth, reduce poverty, and improve food security in Africa. Mathewos Hunde, a leading Ethiopian expert in the field, tells us how risks are being managed in his country.

ADDIS ABEBA – In this interview, Mathewos Hunde, the Director of the Early Warning & Response Directorate under the Disaster Risk Management & Food Security Sector of the Ministry of Agriculture in Ethiopia, talks about his country’s leadership role in Disaster Risk Management.

African leader

 leap ethiopia
In Africa, Ethiopia is a leader in developing innovative risk management tools that link contingency planning, early warning and financing. A core component of Ethiopia’s national risk management framework is the LEAP – Livelihood, Early Assessment and Protection – mechanism.

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What is special about Ethiopia’s Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Strategy?

As early as 2007, we started shifting our focus from crisis management to a proactive Disaster Risk Management system and made the necessary institutional arrangements for that. As part of this new strategy, we worked with WFP and the World Bank on a Weather Risk Management tool, an instrument called LEAP to trigger a timely response in case of a drought or other emergencies.
The LEAP food security early warning tool converts agro-meteorological data into production estimates and quantifies the financial resources needed to scale up the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in case of a major drought in a transparent and verifiable way. The response is triggered through a fund of US$160 million which the World Bank made available.

So how exactly is LEAP used?

LEAP has a huge potential for early warning purposes and we use its intermediary products much more broadly than initially planned.The data produced by LEAP are now even being used by different research institutes.
We can say that Ethiopia is two steps ahead compared to other countries, we have a leadership role considering our early response to risks and in understanding the root causes of them. LEAP is the key tool for our early warning system. We use it as a platform to bring together all the different pieces and translate our DRM approach into action.    

How does WFP support your strategy?

WFP is one of our key partners, providing continuous all round support apart from working with us on the development of LEAP. The support ranges from capacity building to technical support through staff secondment. All of it helps us to achieve our targets set in the Growth and Transformation Plan including the creation of strategic grain reserves, the strengthening of the early warning system and disaster response capability and the development of disaster risk profiles. This has been instrumental in paving the road towards the operationalization of the new DRM approach in Ethiopia. All of this is an indication of the great collaboration we have with both,  WFP’s Office for Climate Change, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction at Headquarters and the Country Office who continuously worked with and supported us in this regard.