International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with the Office of the National Security (ONS) on Wednesday 21st June 2017 have organized a day Disaster Preparedness Workshop under the project title ‘Strengthening Disaster Preparedness, Response and Community Resilience in Sierra Leone” funded by the Government of Japan since March 2017.
The workshop was held at the Hill Valley Hotel, West of Freetown.
In her Brief statement on the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project, the Project Coordinator Ms Yuki Daizumoto said that the International Organization for Migration Disaster Preparedness Workshop was organized mainly to discuss on how the Office of the National Security (ONS) would be better prepared to tackle natural disaster and manmade disaster and bring out preventive measures that people living in various communities in the country would act upon.
|Participants from ONS and IOM
She added that the project takes a pronged approach in strengthen Institutions in Disaster Response Mechanism to reduce the impact of impending disasters on vulnerable communities.
She continued that part of the project would enhance IOM and ONS to capacitate stakeholders in the country on how to manage disaster through community-based risk management and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) training exercises. She went on to say that IOM is well placed to support the government in undertaking not only technical capacity but also of its insight as a member of the public health national emergency committee.
According to Ms Yuki Daizumoto, the IOM and ONS are also planning to conduct assessment for water purification facility throughout the country with the utilization of a Japanese technology (PG&21Ca) and conducting Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) activities in disaster prone communities after the workshop.
The IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa in Dakar, Senegal, Mr. Emmanuel Gay disclosed that disasters are as old as Mankind adding that the first description of Disaster and its management comes from mythological “Noah” and his ark and similar Flood tales are widespread in Greek Mythology, Puranas, Mesopotamian stories, and many cultures.
According to Mr. Emmanuel Gay, disaster occurrence that causes damage, ecological disruption, loss of human life, deterioration of health and health services on a scale, sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community or area. (WHO).
He also defined disaster as an occurrence either nature or manmade that causes human suffering and creates human needs that victim cannot alleviate without assistance.
Mr. Emmanuel Gay informed participants that Disaster Management is the body of policy and administrative decisions and operational activities that pertain to various stages of a disaster at all levels adding that it is an applied science which seeks, by systemic observation and analysis of disasters, to improve measures relating to prevention, emergency response, recovery and mitigation, encompassing all asserting that it is aspects of planning for, and responding to disasters, including both pre-and post-disaster activities.
He also described Disaster management cycle as Mitigation and Measures put in place to minimize the results from a disaster, i.e. building codes and zoning; vulnerability analyses; public education while preparedness is the planning on how to respond, for example, preparedness plans; emergency exercises/training; warning systems.
He also intimated that response is Initial actions taken as the event takes place and it involves efforts to minimize the hazards created by a disaster including evacuation; search and rescue; emergency relief while recovery refers to returning the community to normal. Ideally, the affected area should be put in a condition equal to or better than it was before the disaster took place. Examples: temporary housing; grants; medical care.
Speaking on the principle of disaster management he said disaster management is the responsibility of all spheres of government, use resources that exist for a day-to-day purpose, organizations should function as an extension of their core business, individuals are responsible for their own safety, planning should focus on large-scale events, planning should recognize the difference between incidents and disasters, must take account of the type of physical environment and the structure of the population, arrangements must recognize the involvement and potential role of non-government agencies.
Mr. Emmanuel also spoke on disaster mitigation, this involves lessening the likely effects of emergencies which include depending upon the disaster, protection of vulnerable population and structure Eg improving structural qualities of schools, houses and such other buildings so that medical causalities can be minimized, Similarly ensuring the safety of health facilities and public health services including water supply and sewerage system to reduce the cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
He went on that this mitigation compliments the disaster preparedness and disaster response activities.
He also talk on how Mainstreaming Child Protection and Gender in Emergency which Involving women in mitigation planning and taking final decisions by involving women decision, offering children the opportunity to participate more fully in disaster situations.
Protection of migrants in countries in crisis and strategy and plan of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction activities in the project were also outline.
Representatives from the Office of the National Security and International Organisation for Migration also stressed the need for the proper collaboration to enhance efficient service delivery in the project because it would yield dividend in terms of disaster preparedness in Sierra Leone.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.