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Community Contribution

Learning from Disaster: How CLA Helped to Mitigate Disaster in Ethiopia

William Baron
2022 CLA Case Competition Winner Ribbon

In 2020, seasonal flooding in the lowland region of Afar resulted in displacement of more than 24,000 households and the widespread destruction of livelihoods. For the Resilience in Pastoral Areas (RIPA) program which aims to strengthen disaster prevention systems in Ethiopia, this catastrophe represented a pivotal learning opportunity and potential catalyst for change. RIPA facilitated a pause and reflect process with the Afar Regional Government to ask the question 'what went wrong?' and to understand the underlying challenges that were preventing the government from breaking the pattern of repeated annual disasters. Use of technical evidence was essential in identifying the challenges and potential solutions, such as analysis of failures in the early warning system and message dissemination. A key finding was that the failure of disaster prevention efforts was, to a large extent, a failure of coordination and collaboration. Participants agreed that RIPA should focus on empowering the government's disaster management bureau to effectively orchestrate a multi-stakeholder approach to flood preparedness, and the 3Cs (Coordination, Collaboration and Communication) Approach was adopted as the framework for change. Over the course of the next year, RIPA supported a multi-stakeholder Afar Flood Taskforce to strengthen their Flood Mitigation and Preparedness Plan and, crucially, to effectively operationalize this by allocating tasks to government agencies, development agencies, and community institutions. Actions included clearing diversion waterways, effective delivery of early warning messaging and safely re-locating 5,000 households before the floods hit. These proved extremely successful, and in 2021 only 600 households were displaced, 2.5 percent of the number in 2020.

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