Ten African countries endorse cross-border collaboration framework on Ebola outbreak preparedness and response

Source: World Health Organization
Country: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia

Setting up a mechanism for cross-border collaboration and the sharing of assets will contribute to the mitigation of suffering and minimize the social and economic impact of disease outbreaks.
Goma, DRC, 21 October 2019 - The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its nine neighbouring countries today, during a meeting of ministers, senior health and immigration officials and partners in Goma, endorsed a joint framework to strengthen cross-border collaboration on preparedness and response to Ebola virus and other disease outbreaks.

Representatives of the 10 countries – Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia – noted with concern the Ebola outbreak in north-eastern DRC, which has continued for more than one year, and the increasing potential to spread into the neighbouring countries. They recognized the shared threat that the outbreak poses to health and economic security in the subregion and other parts of Africa and the need to develop an action plan to mitigate the effects of these threats.

“Resources are always limited, and there are always gaps in emergency contingency plans. Setting up a mechanism for cross-border collaboration and the sharing of assets will contribute to the mitigation of suffering and minimize the social and economic impact of disease outbreaks,” said H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohammed, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs.

In her opening address, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, emphasized that cross-border collaboration will particularly enhance information sharing on disease outbreaks and emergencies in line with the legally binding International Health Regulations (2005).

“In recent times, Ebola has been in the spotlight. Other diseases also pose a significant threat. These events highlight the immense importance of cross-border collaboration to improve the sharing and exchange of information to quickly contain outbreaks, harmonize resources, increase coordination and stop diseases from crossing the borders,” said Dr Moeti.

The movement of people, goods and services across borders can heighten the risk of transmission of infectious pathogens that cause diseases, such as Ebola, cholera, measles and yellow fever.

“As the African Union advances towards implementation of Agenda 2063, which aspires for the political and economic integration of Africa, including the free movement of people across the continent, there will be a change. We need to be prepared for the risks that this change poses to the continent. A multi-country effort on Ebola outbreak response and preparedness will be a good example of the use of our collective capabilities in this regard,” said H.E. Mohammed.

The ministerial meeting was co-organized by the Government of the DRC, WHO and the African Union Commission through its Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). Participants reviewed the situation of the outbreak in the DRC and level of preparedness by the 10 neighbouring countries, and discussed a road map for effective and sustained collaboration.

“It is a good thing for the DRC to formalize a framework for collaboration and adopt a road map with its neighbouring countries on Ebola preparedness and response. In this way, we will be able to pull our resources together to strengthen health security and safety,” said Dr Albert Biyombo, Vice Minister of Health in the DRC.

Representatives of the Member States agreed to strengthen mechanisms for the exchange of timely and accurate information on Ebola preparedness and response and other health security risks and noted that withholding or falsifying information and data on Ebola violates the International Health Regulations and threatens peace, security and prosperity of the affected Member States and the entire continent.

“We acknowledge the solidarity that other African countries are showing today by organizing this very important meeting. The meeting will allow us to agree on communication mechanisms across borders on EVD and a common action plan on preparedness and response in case of emergencies,” said H.E. Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, Governor of North Kivu Province, where the meeting took place.

“Information sharing is improving, but we need to bring it to an acceptable level. We need countries to openly share information necessary to save lives. Our mission is to establish cross-border collaboration that will cover all outbreaks and all public health emergencies,” said Dr Moeti.

The ministers and senior health and immigration officials also endorsed the establishment of a coordination task force on EVD and other disease outbreaks, which will be hosted in the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa. The task force is expected to facilitate sustained political commitment to preparedness and response to disease outbreaks. Technical support will be facilitated through the WHO subregional Ebola partnership coordination platforms in collaboration with the Africa CDC and other partners.

Although this framework does not contain any funding commitment for emergency response and preparedness, WHO and the African Union/Africa CDC encourage countries to invest more in this area. Countries that have ramped up their preparedness are better able to handle emergencies, minimizing the social and economic costs of outbreaks and other public health events.

For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:

Tania Seburyamo
Phone: +243 820 66 46 24

James Ayodele
Principal Communication Officer
Africa CDC, Ethiopia
Email: Ayodelej@africa-union.org
Tel: +251 11 551 7700; +251 953912454

Sakuya OKA
Communications Manager
WHO Regional Office for Africa
Cell: +242 06 508 1009
Email: okas@who.int

Collins Boakye-Agyemang
Communications and marketing officer
Tel: + 242 06 520 6565
Email: boakyeagyemangc@who.int

Seasonal rain causes floods in riverine areas in Somalia

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Country: Somalia

Latest reports indicate nearly 40 per cent of Belet Weyne town has been affected by flooding with an estimated 72,000 people having moved to Ceel Jaale highlands and surrounding areas.
Situation Overview

The Deyr rains (September-December) started in September in some parts of Somalia and moderate to heavy rains have continued in many parts of the country and within the Ethiopian highlands over the last three weeks, according to the FAO-Managed Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM). As a result, in Belet Weyne and Jowhar riverine areas, the Shabelle river levels have surpassed the high risk level of flooding and are just a few centimeters to bank full capacity. By 21 October, the Shabelle river level was at 7.72 meters in Belet Weyne, less than half a meter below the bank full level of 8.30 meters with flooding reported in the town. In response, some residents have already begun relocating to higher ground. In Jowhar, river levels are near bank full, while two major breakages at Maandheere and Dhamasame (Jowhar) have reportedly resulted in flooding. Reports from neighboring areas in Ethiopia indicate overbank flows from the Shabelle with the flood water expected to reach Somalia in a day or two, thus increasing the risk of flooding in the region. The river levels are very high in Bulo Burto, Mahadey Weyne and all downstream reaches, and a similar trend is expected from upstream. Moderate to heavy rains are projected in the Ethiopian highlands that feed the river this week, and the Shabelle River is expected to rise further, leading to overbank spillage.

Along the Juba River basin, water levels are also high, with flooding reported in Doolow, Luuq, and Bardheere. On 21 October, SWALIM issued another alert on possible floods along the Juba river advising communities in these areas, to move to higher grounds. In light of the forecast, flash flooding is also expected in built-up and low lying areas of Bay, Bakool and central regions.

Humanitarian impact and needs

Latest reports received in the evening of 21 October indicate that nearly 40 per cent of Belet Weyne town has been affected by flooding with an estimated 72,000 people having moved to Ceel Jaale highlands and surrounding areas. All villages in the north of Belet Weyne town have been affected and humanitarian partners are yet to establish the number of people displaced in these areas. The situation is further compounded by flooding from an outburst of minor tributaries in Belet Weyne, which has caused damage to farmland in villages such as Hawo Taako. Significant portions of crop land were also flooded in Bardheere in Gedo region, (where the river is already at bank full) and Bualle. Riverine communities have been asked to vacate their homes to higher ground with immediate effect. The rains will continue in the next seven days and river levels will continue to rise, further worsening the flood situation. Local authorities working with humanitarian partners are closely monitoring the situation. During the 2018 Gu’ season, Belet Weyne town and surrounding areas were the worst affected by riverine flooding with an estimated 186,000 people displaced to several locations.

Humanitarian coordination and response

To strengthen flood preparedness and ensure a coordinated response, a Hiraan flood taskforce was activated in Belet Weyne under the leadership of the Governor. The task force is made up of local authorities and humanitarian partners. An initial assessment conducted by the task force in Ceel Jaale—where displaced communities are being relocated to—identified Shelter/ NFIs, food, WASH, emergency latrines and security as priorities. Dissemination of early warning information to flood prone-areas, including SWALIM flood alert SMS’ to the vulnerable communities along the rivers is curtailing the loss of assets and life. The provision of clean drinking water to 12,000 families is ongoing. Partners have pre-positioned emergency supplies ready for deployment. These include hygiene kits for 8,500 families, water treatment chemicals and four boats for rescue operation. Food for 4,000 families is expected to arrive in Belet Weyne shortly.

However, lack of shelter and emergency latrines is a major concern. If the river continues to rise and surpass the highrisk level, motorized boats will be required to reach people in isolated locations. There are currently four boats in the area, but more will be required. The local authorities have issued appeal for urgent humanitarian assistance with the situation expected to deteriorate.

Development Solutions

The two perennial rivers in Somalia, the Shabelle, which runs through Hirshabelle and South West states and the Juba, which extends the length of Jubaland, require constant maintenance and upkeep, which has been lacking for several decades. An estimated 10 centimeters of silt accumulates on the riverbeds, resulting in a loss of volume retained within the embankments, which are themselves in disrepair. Dredging of the rivers to remove silt and refuse and reinforcement of the embankments are required to prevent flooding, which has become an almost annual event due to the state of disrepair of the two rivers.

ATCO Frontec joins as new corporate partner

HLA is pleased to announce that ATCO Frontec has joined as a new corporate partner.

ATCO Frontec specializes in operational logistic support services, remote site turn-key accommodation and disaster response solutions. With a global reach, it operates across the disaster and emergency management spectrum, from mitigation and preparedness, to response and recovery, supporting the principle “Build Back Better”. Its highly trained teams provide project management expertise, procurement services and logistics, to rapidly deploy mission-critical services, incident facilities and structures.

ATCO Frontec is a valued partner in emergency response around the world. From the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan to Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria in 2017, it has supported municipalities, provincial and federal governments, as well as NATO’s global operations.

To read more about ATCO's work in disaster response, visit their excellent website, which has a number of case studies, or contact David Lampshire.

Credit: Christian Backmund Fotografie

HLA highlights need for multi-sector collaboration at humanitarian logistics conference

HLA was represented by Chief Executive George Fenton, who emphasized improved multi-sector collaboration to maximize efficiency

On 21st May, HLA had a strong presence at the much-needed sector-specific workshop on Humanitarian Aviation, which took place in Leipzig, Germany. The meeting, held on the sidelines of the 2019 International Transport Forum, was jointly organized by Leipzig/Halle Airport, Volga-Dnepr Group and the Akkon University of Human Sciences. It enabled the stakeholders present to explore specifically how air transport can aid humanitarian efforts, using Germany as a reference point. As such, it brought together actors from the (German) NGO sector, commercial air transport industry, academia, and the donor community.

The conference was organized into workshops and practical demonstrations, and themes covered in the various sessions included humanitarian access, airport preparedness, and Emergency Medical Team (EMT) logistics. HLA was represented by the Chief Executive George Fenton, who facilitated a discussion group that explored the ways in which the NGO sector can get up to speed and be better prepared to respond collaboratively (with other stakeholders) during emergencies. They also identified the challenges that must be overcome in order to improve the implementation of EMTs including bureaucracy and cost, as well as how to better mobilize local aviation capacity. 

Mr. Fenton also moderated a panel discussion, where the issue of the clear gap that exists when it comes to strategic coordination of (air) humanitarian logistics was identified. There was an agreement from the group that more work is needed in this area, and as such agreed, in principle, to hold ongoing discussions in this regard.

“Aircraft are important in certain local contexts, as we saw during the Cyclone Idai response in Mozambique. However, there is not enough coordination to ensure that they work efficiently. More connectedness will certainly lead to more cost effectiveness, and that is what we explored in this workshop”. – George Fenton

As German humanitarian NGOs have a particular interest and see great value in deploying the WHO-certified EMTs, there were some practical demonstrations of what this entails. EMT logistics is seen as very specific German development due to the concentration on medical activities inside Germany, and hence have comparative expertise in this area. The Volga-Dnepr Group, who is leading the charge for the need to do things differently to improve efficiency, also gave a demonstration of some of the unique capabilities of two of the aircraft in their extensive fleet.

“One of the initiatives we’re advancing is for consolidated cargo, which means NGOs share space on bigger aircraft, giving them service and space at a cheaper price, ensuring that they are able to reach more people much more quickly during emergencies. As a first step, we are launching a survey to understand the needs of the NGO community. The findings will help make a strong business case to take this forward.”

Stuart Smith, Director Global Humanitarian, Volga-Dnepr Group

Action Help Germany– a coalition of 10 major GermanNGOs including World Vision, Welthungerhilfe, Action Medeor, DRK – also gave an insight into how they have cooperated with each other including sharing details on lift capacity projects, and some past joint funding for charter flights. It was a useful case study into the German context, even as the workshop participants sought ways by which they could develop useful examples that work, and which can be replicated in other contexts. As such, the discussions also explored the response to recent cyclone Idai in Mozambique, and what lessons that presents for more efficient use of air cargo transport during such emergencies.

Key conclusions and way forward

  • The need for cross-sector collaboration from donors, public, private, and the NGO sectors was a recurring theme from the workshop discussions, with recognition from both the German government and the NGO community that there is a place for improved efficiency in coordinating and sharing transport assets in disaster response. This was identified to be vital in order to prevent wastage and duplication, and make efforts more aligned. Overall, buy-in fromEU member states is vital for effective air logistics coordination.
  • Germany – as a donor country – has an approach to the funding and organization of air cargo that differs from other EU nations, and which presents both opportunities and challenges. As the German government view towards the role of donated air cargo is to be neutral (not seen as involving in other nations affairs), its aid interventions are less bilateral in this regard, and this can present some challenges with coordination and efficiency.
  • There is still a lot of learning and improvement that can be done to enhance the impact of the EMTs. For example, while there is standardisation on the purpose and objectives of the EMTs, the cargo components themselves are less standardized with different suppliers in place. One solution advanced is for a possible increased role of the specialist Robert Koch Institute to interface between the German EMTs, government, and the WHO, in this regard.
  • There is interest and space for the private sector to introduce some sector-specific initiatives in the field of cargo transportation. This include in the area of special considerations regarding contracting and frame partnerships; the development of a technological platform for aircraft space share and consolidation; and special conditions and services that airports may create and offer for humanitarian value-add. A good exampleof private sector engagement cited was the UNOCHA established ‘connecting business initiative’ (CBI) groupin the Philippines, which is a valuable sector cluster approach for private sector partners.
  • There is a need for a stronger and improved donor-led engagement with the transport outputs of NGOs and agencies. This is in terms of the coordination of assets – who flies where and with what –, and possibly an intermediary role for a coordinator between the donor and the various actors.


Photo credit: Christian Backmund Fotografie

Mozambique update from HLA members

We have been coordinating responses from various HLA members on the current emergency situation in Mozambique following Cyclin Idai.

Club of Mozambique - emergency update

Club of Mozambique, the online gateway to Mozambique, reported that on 18 March the first international airlift arrived in Beira, Mozambique from UNHRD in Dubai. WFP are handling the distribution of supplies. For more information, read here.

Aero Africa - capacity

Reporting on 21 March, Jamie AndersonDirector -  African Solutions, said: "Remarkably I have not seen any humanitarian aid requests freely on the market for air cargo into Mozambique as of yet. It appears that the international call to help has yet to gather pace. I spoke to a few forwarders who handle NGO’s yesterday and they said the same. There are relief convoys en route ex South Africa. Day by day the world is starting to see the big picture therefore I expect a lot more activity in the coming days."

In terms of carrier availability, he added: "We would welcome any enquiries as we are very in touch with aircraft availability along the entire eastern coastline of Africa. Astral Aviation has the 727F based in NBO. There are also ample AN26F and also a C310 in MGQ that could also be called into play, as the operators do have spare hours".

Volga-Dnepr - capacity

Reporting on 21 March, Stuart Smith, Director Global Humanitarian, said of Volga-Dnepr's capacity: "1 x VDA IL76 is now ready in Maputo and will operate flights in coming days for BEW/Beira International Airport. We may consider ops also to Chimoio/VPY inside Mozambique. We may also look to offer B737F of Atran Cargo (Volga-Dnepr Group) ex EU and UAE origins, in case of smaller loads requirement. BEW, as we understand it, is not able to download larger freighters due lack of MDL but smaller freighters (forklift/low loader etc) as yes OR ramp".

Sheltereach.org - shelter

John Vasila of Sheltereach said: “Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Minangagwa, of town Chmanimani Government wants to ensure that houses are built back with stronger materials. Sheltereach designs can be summed up with the word Simple. Simple for the end users, simple in terms of logistics and simple in procurement.

This leads to safe, affordable housing with access to services. We can also help local people to understand the building principles and materials used in our shelter/housing systems. We can partner with Government and NGOs to ensure appropriate disaster relief and reconstruction methods are used, increasing the strength by up to 30 times of  the original structure, usually without increasing the minimal budget cost".

See attached for typical shelter options and a diagram of a Disaster Cycle, in terms of shelter.