#Article (Archive)

Concerted efforts needed in curbing disasters

Mar 18, 2016, 9:42 AM

The increasing concern over the negative effects of climate change requires concerted efforts to address disasters and reduce the risks.

The world has witnessed numerous disasters over the centuries both man-made and natural, such as wars, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons, and infernos.

Disasters have claimed both human and animal lives, and have incurred huge costs on governments and individuals.

The 2005 Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake are among the 25 worst natural disasters ever recorded.

In The Gambia, disasters have come mainly from droughts, flood incidents, and diseases caused by the environment.

In March 2012, for instance, the Gambian government declared a national crop failure after a post-harvest assessment of the 2011 farming season.

Farmers witnessed a drop in production of more than 70%, and poor harvests of rice, groundnuts, millets, maize and sorghum, leaving households with only two months of food supplies, instead of the usual four to six months.

The situation led to food scarcity, making life highly challenging for especially the peasant farmers.

Floods have also been having the better toll of us over the years.  For instance, in the last raining season, the river in Basse over-flooded into the town, leading to the closure of many businesses and services for about three months. This served as a huge loss of revenue to the country.

In pursuit of the objectives set towards ensuring a disaster-free Gambia, the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) recently collaborated with the Red Cross Communities, to launch the International Disaster Law Report on The Gambia, a research conducted by Bandirabeh Consultancy Firm.

The event, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, was an opportunity for various stakeholders to make their inputs on what the Disaster Law Report should cover, with a view to strengthening disaster prevention programmes.

It is, therefore, essential that the government through the relevant authorities implement policies set out to curb disasters in the country, such as ensuring that people are prevented from making settlements on waterways, to protect them from falling as victims to floods, which is affecting many communities in The Gambia every raining season.

Environmental policies must also seek to address indiscriminate dumping of waste products, by putting in place waste management education programmes, as well as enforcing proper disposal of waste products across the country.

Members of the private sector should also help by investing in projects and programmes promoting clean environment and healthy business operation.

The Forestry Department also has responsibility to sustain the campaign against bushfires, as part of efforts at combating man-made disasters.

Imported food products also need to be properly screened to ensure that people consume hygienic imported food products.

If all hands are put on deck in the cause of disaster prevention, disasters would greatly be reduced in our society.

“In all natural disasters through time, man needs to attach meaning to tragedy, no matter how random and inexplicable the event is.”

Nathaniel Philbrick