three-day high-level government officials training on evidence-informed
decision making on environmental disasters Tuesday kicked-off at Tendaba Camp
in Lower River Region.
The training is organised by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Regional Office for West Africa (Sahel) in Dakar. It purely targets Permanent Secretaries, Deputy Permanent Secretaries and directors, with the few identified technicians from some key institutions.
With project name: Using drones and early warning systems for pre- and post-floods disaster management in The Gambia, the training is funded through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund.
It targets to raise awareness of decision makers on early warning, particularly on flood management; to help them in making informed decisions on environmental disasters and to streamline environmental disasters in the national development plans for informed decisions.
Sanna Dahaba, Executive Director of National Disaster Management Agency said the significance attached to the project will require the understanding of senior government officials for a sustainable implementation.
He pointed out that the specific objectives of the training are to strengthen the capacity of individuals and their institutions to access, evaluate and effectively apply scientific knowledge generated by research to identify relevant policy options and provide more informed policy advice. He said it also aims to raise the awareness and motivation of individuals and institutions for evidence-based decision-making; as well as to encourage the sustainability of the use of science in public policy.
Mr. Dahaba highlighted that early warning is essential in addressing vulnerability because it enhances climate information services, which enables preparedness and response to disasters.
He admitted that NDMA and partners are challenged by early warning systems for the past years, saying this, by far increases the number of affected population in the country, with little or no effective preparedness plan in place.
According to him, the project will help the country in achieving its targets in the DNP, SDG, as well as enhance the establishment of a functional early warning system and reporting Target G of the 2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Dr. Anthony Maduekwe, programmes specialist for natural sciences at UNESCO regional multi-sectoral office for West Africa – Sahel said the role and significance of the systematic use of evidence for decision and policy-making is now becoming apparent to many in developing countries, saying an accurate, concise and unbiased synthesis of the available evidence is arguably one of the most valuable contributions a research community can offer to decision-makers.
“In many countries, several organisations are already producing powerful examples of synthesised evidence. However, too few researchers and policy makers know about them; too few understand how to produce or commission good syntheses; and too many are reaching for information that is out of date, incomplete or biased, sometimes from just one study or researcher,” he said.
Upper River Region Governor Fanta Bojang-Samateh said for the past years, regions have been striking by disasters especially URR, LRR and CRR, adding that these regions are prone to disasters.
She suggested that it is high time for decision and policy makers to sit together and map out ways to combat the problem before and after they occur.
Madam Bojang-Samateh challenged participants to take the training seriously and to be ready to share the knowledge gained from the training, saying disasters come in natural and man-made forms and, “we can try to resolve the ones that comes in man-made forms.”
She called on decision makers to make decisions beneficial to grassroots people they are representing. She also called for the need to sensitize communities on disaster risk reduction measures and mechanisms.
Marjorie Alain of Partnership for Economic Policy said during her work with researchers over the past 10 years, she has seen how the knowledge between the producer and the user can achieve impact in decisions and outcomes. She thanked NDMA for organizing the training, describing it as extremely important in helping communities and decision makers.