May 12, 2010, 12:15 PM
The issue of disaster management and risk reduction would continue to preoccupy the minds of many or even dominate our national discourse so long as disasters do not cease to unfold.
Indeed significant and remarkable gains continue to be recorded in The Gambia's relentless march towards adopting a sustainable approach to disaster management as evident in recent developments in the country's disaster management landscape. Despite our refusal to belabor some of the remarkable gains so far achieved in our disaster management industry, one point though that cannot escape mention here is the recent presentation of a huge amount of money to Regional Governors by the Vice President geared towards helping disaster victims.
This latest presentation has confirmed and indeed has further buttressed government's pro-active decision to undertake a comprehensive and holistic approach to disaster management focusing on prevention and preparedness.
The most important thing is for people to understand that disaster management is an important issue given the recent floods and damages done to infrastructure, house holds income and farmlands. Given the fact that local communities bear the greatest brunt of disasters, emphasis should now be placed on capacitating and empowering communities to be able to identify and understand the hazards and vulnerabilities around them and undertake community contingency planning.
This is the surest way to guarantee a sustainable disaster management approach in The Gambia and we are glad that UNDP's support is geared towards this direction. It's also heart-warming to note that many speakers have stressed the importance of effective coordination of disaster management activities in order to enhance accountability, transparency among many others.
It is also heart-warming to note that regional disaster management structures are now restructured and fully functional with disaster bank accounts. There's no gainsaying the fact that this restructuring will create the much-needed sanity and effective coordination of disaster management activities in the country with national level coordination activities in the country with the National Disaster Management Committee under the Office of the Vice President. Indeed, this structural and operational evolution is therefore a clear manifestation that the ad-hoc approach that used to obtain should no longer be the order of the day as it has been the case in disaster management in the country as they are politically accountable to the citizenry.
What this means therefore is that all NGOs, private sector, civil society organisations, private individuals, UN agencies and government departments all need to embrace this structure and to work through this established structures in order to reinforce a comprehensive and integrated disaster management approach in the country. Without doubt, this will help to avoid duplication of responses, efforts and unhealthy competition. It also reinforces quality control, especially when it comes to relief items. The integrated and comprehensive disaster management approach in the country also enhances the right of victims.
However, given this laudable achievement, we would rather suggest to government to further reinforce these laudable achievements and proactive strategy.