Crisis Management Models in Africa

Published on 17 February 2015

This report is based on two days of desk-based research. It was prepared for the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DfID) to address the question: “What models of crisis management exist across Africa and what has the experience been?”

The Ebola crisis in West Africa made the need for effective crisis management clear. This rapid review identifies examples of crisis management models in Africa which go beyond an emergency humanitarian response to natural disasters. While there is a clear need to respond to crises such as floods and other natural disasters, there are other crises which also require management to reduce their negative impact. Much less is known about how these crises are managed by governments.

The rapid review uncovered very little literature detailing general crisis management models in Africa. It found almost no literature on the experience of using such crisis management models in relation to crises such as public disorder, political unrest, and epidemics. However, some independent evaluations of crisis management models used to respond to food security crises have been carried out. Most of the available literature was descriptive grey literature published by national governments or international agencies supporting their efforts. The literature available does not engage much with how these models will serve the needs of the most vulnerable.

Examples of national crisis management models include Nigeria, Uganda and Mauritania. These countries experience a range of natural and human-induced crises and have developed disaster management policies and agencies or centres to coordinate responses. Their national crisis management models are designed to respond to crises generally, rather than specific types of crises. Their crisis management models include activities and responsibilities relating to: i) crisis risk assessment; ii) crisis risk reduction; iii) crisis preparedness, prevention and mitigation; iv) crisis response; and v) crisis recovery. All these are dealt with at various levels of government, including local government. The central coordinating body generally sits in the office of the president or is under their direct control.

Evaluations have assessed of the food security crisis management in Kenya, Ethiopia and Niger. The Kenyan crisis management has been criticised for been fragmented, and thus ineffective, due to issues with governance. The Ethiopian and Nigerien famine early warning systems have been praised for their effectiveness which has helped to manage the impact of food security crises. However, the systems are at risk of political interference. This can delay response to crises.


Brigitte Rohwerder

Research Officer

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Rohwerder , B .
GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1199


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