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Periperi U/UNDP course boosts disaster risk capacity in Sahel
Author: SU International
Published: 13/12/2021

​Periperi U, an African universities partnership aimed at building local disaster risk management capacity, recently hosted a four-week online course on climate and disaster risk financing (CDRF). The course, co-designed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), specifically focused on the Sahel region of Africa – the semiarid region extending from Senegal eastward to Sudan.

From 16 November to 9 December 2021, experts from Stellenbosch University (SU) (home to the Periperi U secretariat), the University of Antananarivo (Madagascar) and industry collaborated to present the programme. Teaching modes included virtual classrooms, self-paced study and group work, and all components were offered in both French and English.

“The CDRF course was the second short-course collaboration between the UNDP and Stellenbosch University," explains Alberto Francioli, programme manager at the Periperi U secretariat. “It focused on government officials and practitioners in the Sahel region, which is considered one of the most vulnerable parts of the world. The aim was to build the region's capacity to increase resilience against the financial shocks and impacts associated with disasters and climate change." The region is plagued by food shortages and famine, recurring droughts and fragile economies.  

“This course attests to the increasing interest in, and continent-wide acknowledgement of the importance of, understanding climate change and disaster risk to build more resilient and sustainable communities in Africa," says Francioli. 

The Sahel officials, along with representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union Commission, tuned in to learn about the basic concepts of CDRF. These included an understanding of the overall landscape of climate and disaster risk financing sources at national and international level, applications of risk context studies, knowledge of CDRF instruments and their application, and weather forecasting mechanisms.

In the first week, participants examined the complex risk environment in Africa, and the case was made for disaster risk reduction and CDRF as essential tools in the region's risk mitigation arsenal. The United Nations' sustainable development goals were also discussed, as was the link between resource management and allocation and the climate and disaster risk issues faced across the continent.

Instruments and tools for CDRF in the African context were the focus of the second week. Using both Sahel-based and international case studies, presenters illustrated the application of these financing instruments and tools, including contingency funding and parametric insurance. In the third week, the focus shifted to the application of CDRF-based research, data and assessments to roll out evidence-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The final week of the course saw facilitators providing hands-on guidance on how participants could go about implementing effective CDRF strategies and actions for their respective countries.

* For more information on Periperi U's disaster risk-related short courses, go to or e-mail Alberto Francioli at

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