UNDP urges African countries to institute measures to address internal displacement
This, according to the UN agency, was one of the surest ways to improve the lives of their people to help achieve the desired sustainable development goals.
Dr Angela Lusigi, UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, who made the call, said addressing “this silent epidemic is an opportunity to transform our future by preventing displacement and mitigating impacts on the most vulnerable.”
She pointed out that internal displacement constituted a significant economic burden for individuals, communities, and economies.
Sharing her views on this year’s World Humanitarian Day, with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi, Dr Lusigi, indicated that humanitarian assistance was now more important as the world witnessed a growing number of people who needed help after being forcibly displaced in their own countries.
Africa, she noted, was the most affected continent and hosted over one-third of the forced displacement population.
Dr Lusigi noted that the silent displacement epidemic was not only driven by conflicts, but also increasingly, by a changing climate.
In Ghana, for instance, the Global Internal Displacement Database indicates that over the last ten years, more than 162,299 Ghanaians have been internally displaced due to weather-related disasters, storms, and floods.
Notable cases included the 2013 and 2018 floods which left 23,000 and 52,000 people displaced, respectively.
More recently in 2021, floods in Ketu South Municipality in the Volta Region left 7,000 people internally displaced.
These numbers show that our region (Ghana) is highly vulnerable and at risk. Dr Lusigi, said the effects of climate change had resulted in intense heat waves, prolonged droughts, and rising sea levels, adding that the situation was increasing the vulnerability to displacement.
“Looking into the future, African countries need to respond to the impact of climate change now to help prevent a reversal in development gains.
“By anticipating, adapting, and recovering faster from disasters including climate-related disasters, countries can help to prevent widening poverty and inequality that accompanies displacement,” she suggested.
Dr Lusigi recommended that countries should plan for the unforeseen using accurate and timely information to help prepare and mitigate the impact of a catastrophe.
Effective urban planning and management were also paramount to increase the ‘livability’ of many African cities for this growing population as well as innovative risk and insurance financing.
To bridge the disaster protection gap, Dr. Lusigi said the UNDP was helping to strengthen the financial resilience of developing countries like Ghana protect vulnerable communities from socio-economic, climate and health-related disasters through the Insurance and Risk Finance Facility.