Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gambia: Worse Form of Disaster is Heavy Water Pours, Logging

Mr. Abdou  B Touray the National Consultant on Disaster Risk Reduction (DAR), while presenting his paper on linking Disaster Risk Reduction on poverty reduction strategies and the United Nations Development Framework (UNDAF),  at Disaster Risk Reduction Advocacy Training for the media practitioners and security officers, has said that the most form of disaster in the Gambian soil is heavy pours, logging among others.
He was presenting a paper at a two days workshop organized by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) from 10th- 11th February 2011 at Baobab in Bijilo Hotel in Banjul. 
  Mr. Touray said that disaster are fast becoming more diverse and complex in modern times adding that "looking at what is happening at the world, in Africa and in particular in The Gambia to be specific.
  He said all the regions in the country are affected directly or indirectly causing uncomfortable agony to the environment, human life, livestock and victims alike. Disasters do not only concern the poor but the non poor also as it wash out all accumulated assets of the even well off in society and can draw back economic development of any country."

 Touray positioned that  disaster concern every body, and all are either affected or infected. However evidence has showed that it affects the poor most since sub-marginal lands and have little assets to allow fast recovery. The poor are more vulnerable to disasters due to their lack of material and human capital. 
 He said disasters can take many forms, either man-made or natural, but according to him most of them are water and climate related disasters noting that  the worsen form of disaster in The Gambia, in recent times are links to heavy water pours and logging causing loss of human lives and properties and more so the inconviniency to mobility adding that development from the basic needs approach to human development participation, voice and power are all geared towards human progress and better Quality of life. 
He buttressed that development is economic and social progressive change and is seriously hampered by disasters but was quick to say that disasters can retard economic and social development of any country as it can destroy development takes account of environmental and disaster issues in developing planning and management. 
According to him, the oxford’s analysis of poverty and the approach to development and relief shows that vulnerability, poverty and marginalization go together, for example, he said that houses built in river or stream gullies are prone to damage caused by floods or earthquakes. 
He continued: "Subsistence farmers may cultivate land in fertile, but disaster prone areas such as flood plains or in areas in which the environment is already severely degraded, such where the water is polluted by industrial or human water or where there is significant atmospheric contamination. "All these are them from either reducing the risk, or pressing the relevant institutions to do so, or moving else where."
Mr. Touray pointed out that disaster can slow down socio- economic development since lives and assets are lost, he adds, its retards productivity of labour and settlement are affected by disasters and it can pull a community down to zero and make able persons destitute and even beggers within few hours. It affects human development as it increases illness and loss of school instructional hours.
However, he went on, it affects crops and small and medium enterprises/business, and worse of all is the tremor it faces affected communities and individuals. 
Realisng the significance of disaster issues in the souci-economic development of the country, he went on to explained that the National Disaster Management Act and Policy were formulated in 2008 and an Agency created for the implementation of the Act and policy. 
 Accordingly, he stated that the key task of the Agency- NDMA is to ensure that the whole country is fully equipped to anticipate and respond to disaster events in a multi-stake holder participatory approach at all levels. The paramount importance is for the Agency to integrate disaster risk reduction sustainable development policies and planning in order to promote a transparent, systematic and consistent approach to disaster mitigation generally refers to a practical measures to minimize the destructive efforts of natural hazards, and so lessen the magnitude of their impact. 
Reducing vulnerability, he said will enables individuals and communities better to survive and confront future disaster occurs. The cost of mitigation he said is far less than recovery and rehabilitation and therefore if it is a wise option for countries and communities better to survive and confront future disasters. Mitigation measures can be implemented at any time before a disaster occurs. 
Still on the cost, he said that the cost of mitigation he said is far less than recovery and rehabilitation and therefore it is a wise option for countries and communities to put more emphasis on mitigating activities. 
 Summing up his presentation, Touray said it is against this background, that integrating disaster issues in the entire national development process is a key more bearing in mind that disaster is not a sector but a cross cutting matter and therefore needs to be considered in all national sectoral policies.

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