Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Disaster Risk Reduction Advocacy Meeting in Banjul
NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- Disaster can take many forms, man-made and natural, but most of them are water and climate related and largely link to climate change, the worsen form of disaster in recent times inTthe Gambia are link to heavy water down pours and logging causing loss of human lives and properties and more so the inconviniency of mobility.
This was the subject of discussion from 9-10th February 2011 at the Boabab Hotel in Banjul, was the subject that on the subject that journalists from both print and electronic media, the security forces ponder over.
In his remarks, at the opening of the meeting, the Chief of Defence Staff of The Gambia Arm Forces, General Masaneh Kinteh said that the workshop is timely because its brings the attention of the participants to the issue of disaster reduction in world , in the country saying that disasters are becoming incresingly many are now more vulnerable to all sorts of disasters be it natural or man-made.
He urged participants to use the experience in the last rainy season in the country, so as to take the workshop seriously as the country has witnessed many floods in all the regions.
He continued: "One of the lessons that I think is important is that it is very costly to recover from such natural disasters, therefore, there is an ardent need for prevention by being practice rather than reactive."
He added that prevention of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a key factor in reducing the human and physical factor adding that "this should not discount the need for immediate emergency relief mobilized by humanitarian efforts." However, humanitarian efforts should be invested more in prevention rather than more distribution of food, medicines, candies and in the Gambia, DRR should be a major undertaking due to lack of capacity we need to build and strengthen our institutional, technical and human capacity, without which he said, it will be a daunting challenge to defend against natural disasters.
He said the security forces have a constitutional mandate to come to the aid of the civil authorities in cases of natural disaster/emergencies and also man power, resources and organization to effectively participate in disasters management operations. He pointed out that over the year the concept of security came to be deepened and broadened to include a human centric approach, which includes security the society, economy and the environment.
In his opening statement, Permanent Secretary office of the Vice President Mr. Lamin Nyabally, gave a brief background of the the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), which he said was established by an Act of Parliament in 2008 as the central body entrusted with the coordination of all kinds of disasters in The Gambia. The governing body of the Agency, he continue, was also constituted and called the National Disaster Management Council which he stated is headed by Her Excellency Vice President Dr. Aja Isatou Njie -Saidy.
The operation of the Agency, according to Nybally, is now decentralized with all the seven administrative regions in the country saying that all the seven regions are now having their respective offices. He said giving handouts is not sustainable and therefore, the strategic direction is to prevent were possible or reduce the impact of hazards and to holistically address some of the underlying factors leading to these disasters.
He said NDMA will continue to engage all its stakeholders in its advocacy drive on Disaster Risk Reduction as means of reaching them and ultimately to the communities to ensure that they are fully equipped and involved in DRR enabling them to anticipate and respond to disasters. He said the Gambians best practice on DRR is being used as a case study within and outside the sub-region, which he said called for in the African Regional Strategy on DRR and its program of actions (2006 – 2015) and the ECOWAS policy for DRR to mainstream DRR sectoral policies, PRSP&MDGs. He advised journalist to be on the crusade in the creation of awareness at all levels, while finally urging all to shift away from managing crisis to managing risk, as he puts it, disaster response and crisis management are in the long run unsustainable due to doubling global resources precipitated by the credit crunch, global instability among others, he concluded.