ARC offers a new way to manage climate disasters 

It is common cause that Africa accounts for just 4% of global emissions but carries the burden of the impact of climate change.


This article is sponsored by UN ECA

African Risk Capacity is using innovation and data to support governments to tackle climate-related disasters as climate change begins to bite, says Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director General of ARC and UN Assistant Secretary General.

It is important, he says, to give the problem a human face as the scale of suffering rises in the wake of increasingly severe impacts. 

Key is the rapid deployment of assistance. Humanitarian organisations, which have been at the forefront of such efforts, only respond once disaster strikes and often the intervention comes too late. 

ARC uses advance technology for innovative modelling that enables it to provide solutions that can save people. Among these is improving early warning systems, which allow more rapid responses.

“Our modelling allows governments to have better visibility and awareness of their risk to disasters and using the power of data and technology can allow them to make informed decisions.”

Governments have two main choices. They can absorb the cost of responding to disasters themselves or they can transfer their risk to the insurance market. Paying a premium enables them to access a contingency fund when extreme weather events trigger natural disasters.

If the risk is high, the premium to be paid may be too high for the country to absorb. In this case, countries in a region that is similarly affected by floods or drought, for example, can pool their resources to make it affordable, and share the payout. 

He cited the example of Southern Africa where four countries – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique – are about to receive a $60m payout from ARC, covering about six million people. 

The ARC also calls on donors to assist with premiums in the face of visible need. “This is part of the global solidarity for climate actions.”

The ARC is a specialised agency of the African Union 

Since its inception in 2012, it has provided cover of up to $1bn in sub-Saharan Africa and paid $160m in claims to date, protecting 100 million people in the process.

There is strong oversight on the disbursement of funds, including engagement with governments on a possible operational plan to deal with the emergency, payment Into a dedicated account for the purposes of monitoring and evaluation and documenting beneficiary impacts. 

The ARC is hosting a two-day African Climate Roundtable in Johannesburg on 7-8 May to unify African voices on climate resilience and adaptation.