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The West African Health Organization (WAHO) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Agency Sign a Partnership Agreement to Strengthen Epidemic Preparedness and Response Capacities in ECOWAS Member States

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Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso – Johannesburg, South Africa | February 28, 2022 – The West African Health Organization (WAHO) and the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Agency today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a collaborative framework to assist ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Member States to better prepare, plan, and respond to the most impactful disease outbreaks of epidemic potential in the region.

Under the agreement, WAHO and ARC Agency will join forces and leverage on their individual expertise to estimate in each ECOWAS member states the likelihood of epidemic occurrence and severity for selected viral haemorrhagic fever diseases – such as Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever – and meningitis; develop realistic costed outbreak response scenarios based on countries’ risk profiles; conduct disaster risk finance diagnostics at national and regional levels to evaluate the mechanisms and amount of funds available to respond quickly to an outbreak event; collaborate with Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Africa CDC, WHO and other institutions to develop state-of-art epidemic risk models to assess epidemic risks and improve decision making; incentivize countries to development disaster risk finance strategies; and support the design of the ARC/AU sovereign risk transfer solution for outbreak and epidemic risks to protect the government’s budget against fiscal shocks.

Speaking at the virtual signing of the MoU from ARC Agency Headquarters in Johannesburg, UN-ASG Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Director-General of the ARC Group, indicated that “Our strategic partnership with WAHO, the leading institutions on health matters in the ECOWAS Region, is perfectly in line with our pursuit of smart partnerships with Global and African organizations and complementary to our efforts in building a framework to ensure resilience against disease outbreaks and health emergencies in our Member States, through technical, financial, and policy levels collaboration.”

The Outbreaks and Epidemics Programme of the ARC Group was built on its sovereign parametric risk insurance model which has delivered impressive and lifesaving results against drought and tropical cyclone for participating African countries. Targeted at 4 diseases of epidemic potential including acute haemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa fever), and Meningitis, it aims to equip AU member states with an array epidemic preparedness and response tools (risk profiling, risk modeling, contingency planning) combined with adapted funding options, to swiftly contain and stop the spread of disease outbreaks.

From Bobo-Dioulasso, Professor Stanley Okolo, the Director-General of WAHO, welcomed the partnership with the Specialized Agency of the African Union, the ARC Group, stating that “such collaboration will aim at strengthening the health security agenda in a region prone to disease outbreaks of different frequency and severity”.

Notes to Editors:

About the West African Health Organization (WAHO)

The West African Health Organization (WAHO) is the Specialized Institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responsible for health issues. Its mission is to attain the highest possible standard and protection of health of the peoples in the sub-region through the harmonization of the policies of the Member States, pooling of resources, and cooperation with one another and with others for a collective and strategic fight against the health problems of the sub-region.

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About the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group

The African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group consists of ARC Agency and ARC Limited (ARC Ltd). ARC Agency was established in 2012 as a Specialized Agency of the African Union to help the Member States improve their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to weather-related disasters. ARC Ltd is a mutual insurance facility providing risk transfer services to the Member States through risk pooling and access to reinsurance markets. ARC was established on the principle that investing in preparedness and early warning through an innovative financing approach is highly cost-effective and can save upward of four dollars for every dollar invested ex-ante.

With the support of the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, France, the European Union, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the United States, ARC assists the AU Member States in reducing the risk of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events affecting Africa’s populations by providing, through sovereign disaster risk insurance, targeted responses to natural disasters in a more timely, cost-effective, objective, and transparent manner. ARC is now using its expertise to help tackle some of the other most significant threats faced by the continent, including floods and outbreaks & epidemics.

Since 2014, 62 policies have been signed by the Member States for cumulative insurance coverage of US$720 million for the protection of 72 million vulnerable populations in participating countries.

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Twitter: @ARCapacity


West African Health Organization | E-mail:
Simon Pierre Diouf | Communications Officer | African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group | E-mail:
Molalet Tsedeke | Media Coordinator | Directorate of Information and Communication, African Union Commission | E-mail: