#Article (Archive)

A Lifeline

Oct 26, 2009, 2:39 PM

The active commitment of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to the plight of the victims extensive flooding and damages is welcoming. The WFP, with support of the National Disaster Management Agency, Office of the Vice President has launched an Immediate Response Emergency Operation providing support to approximately 15,000 affected people amounting to US$450,000.

We regard this gesture as a lifeline for the thousands of affected families. At the peak of the rainy season, there was widespread damage caused by flooding in different parts of the country, in particular the Kombos. Assessment reports obtained from the Regional Disaster Management Committees indicate that there were nine deaths and 5,000 people were displaced.  Most of the displaced people had to seek refuge in homes of relatives, friends and in schools and community centres.

Besides, most of them have had to live under unsavoury conditions: over congestion and poor sanitation. And more disturbing is the fact that a large number of the victims are women and children under the age of five. Parallel to this, private property, public infrastructure as well as livestock and food stock were lost in the flood.

From the footages shown on GRTS, it is clear that most of the affected people had been eking out a meager existence, which has been worsened by the flood disaster. Naturally, they need all the support they can get to put them back on a strong footing. That is why we welcome wholeheartedly the WFP initiative. The items that the victims have been provided with will go a long way to take care of their basic existential needs.

But the crucial point is to formulate strategy and tactics to make the initiative much more sustainable. We agree with WFP that it has to work with government and other partners to put in place more sustainable mid-to-long-term responses. Some of these measures should also be preventive. From what we have seen so far, there is need for rigorous urban planning in order to avoid or curtail future occurrences.

It is also imperative for a standing fund to be set to ensure a rapid response to such disasters in the future. Waiting until disaster strikes before mustering humanitarian relief is counterproductive. Since this flooding happens almost every year, we are better off planning ahead.

"Food is an important part of a balance diet".

Fran Lebowitz