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New Disaster Management Bill for Gambia

Oct 24, 2008, 6:45 AM | Article By: Abba A.S Gibba

A 'Disaster Management Bill', a Bill that sets up a formal structure for integrated and co-ordinated disaster management for The Gambia was on Wednesday 22ndOctober 2008 enacted by the National Assembly.

The bill focuses on prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery from disasters or emergency situations as well as the management of the effects from such events.

The Vice President and Secretary of State for Women's Affairs tabled the bill before National Assembly Members.

This bill establishes a National Disaster Management Agency, Council as well as Regional, District and Village Disaster Management Committees throughout The Gambia to deal with disasters at the respective levels.

There are specific provisions in the Bill for the declaration of the state of emergency to cope with the calamity of a national disaster.

The bill also provides for provisions for payment of compensation and other forms of relief and laying down rules as to eligibility for the payment of compensation and appeals by property owners who suffer loss as a result of the Government action during a time of disaster. There is also provision of other forms of financial relief that may be made available to the victims of disaster, which will not be considered as compensation under the Bill.

Disaster Funds are also established for the purpose of preventing, responding to, mitigation of, providing relief in, recovery from and rehabilitation in, any threatening disaster situation or disaster, in accordance with the guidelines laid down under National Disaster pursuant this Act.

However there are several types of actions, such as false warning and false compensation claims that are considered to be offences under the bill for which appropriate penalties can be imposed either in the form of imprisonment or payment of fines, or both.

In moving the motion before the deputies, Her Excellency the Vice President, Dr. Isatou Njie-Saidy said that the Government is empowered to take some measures for the purpose of managing disasters. She noted that the bill provides for preparation for management plans.

"For disaster management to be effectively integrated and co-ordinated, planning is necessary, and as such, under the bill, disaster management plans are to be developed at the national, district and village levels," she said.

"Also under this ambit, disaster management plans are also to be developed by Departments of State," she added.

Vice President Njie-Saidy expressed the view that in any disaster, there may be occasion when it is necessary to evacuate the inhabitants of any locality.

She noted that this bill empowers the executive director of the Agency to access the potential for loss of life and injury to persons where there is a threat of a hazard or where disaster has occurred in any part of the country.

There are specific provisions in the bill for the declaration of the state of emergency to cope with the calamity of a national disaster.

National Assembly Members unanimously supported the bill.