4 Jul 2023

Preparing for the changing climate and changing contexts: the 6th Africa Dialogue Platform gets under way

The 6th Africa Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action began on 4 July 2023. This year, around 170 people have gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, and more than 1,100 are registered to take part online. During the opening session, Marten Menger, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in South Africa, noted how the growth of this annual event reflects the spread of anticipatory action in Africa: “It is already the 6th Africa Dialogue Platform [and] we can see that anticipatory action is highly relevant for all corners of the continent.”

The central theme this year is ‘Preparing for the (un)predictable: anticipatory action in the face of a changing climate and contexts’. Other speakers during the opening session acknowledged some of the challenges that Africa is already facing – and what can be done to support people to cope with these. As Lewis Hove from FAO noted, “from heavy rains to flooding and cyclones, the region is now bracing for El Niño. Early warnings and anticipatory action will help us to get farmers ready to continue producing food.”

The Africa Dialogue Platform is buzzing with energy as experts from across the continent come together to discuss early warning systems and anticipatory action. It’s inspiring to witness the commitment to proactive measures in mitigating disasters and building resilience.

Kara Siahaan Head, Anticipation Hub

"National governments should be well educated about anticipatory action"

There was a strong government presence on the opening day, with 36 representatives from 19 countries at the event in South Africa. Some of the parallel sessions – many of which were held in a hybrid format – explored the role that governments can play in anticipatory action, with participants also considering how to bring them on board.

During a session on drought, food insecurity and conflict, Banak Joshua, director general of South Sudan’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, shared some ideas: “Anticipatory action initiatives fail because of national governments not putting [in] enough money – and yes, I am from the government, I am criticizing myself! My advice is that national governments should be well educated about what it means to adapt to anticipatory action; it’s not new, but it can save lives and reduce costs.”

The opening day of the Africa Dialogue Platform also saw the launch of the Joint Programme on Strengthened Early Warning and Anticipatory Action in Southern Africa. Through a unique partnership with the Southern African Development Community, the Secretariat of southern Africa’s Regional Anticipatory Action Working Group will implement this programme over the next two years, with the ambition to scale up early warnings and anticipatory action effectively and efficiently in the region. This programme will adopt an innovative approach towards putting inter-agency, harmonized interventions into operation.

Registration for online participation at the Africa Dialogue Platform remains open throughout the event; you can sign up via the event website. All plenary sessions are translated from English into Arabic, French and Portuguese.