African Governments Must Prioritise Disaster Management- Annor-Dompreh
Mr Frank Annor-Dompreh, Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs has called on African governments to attach extra importance to disaster management issues by making sufficient budgetary allocations to address it.
He explained that in Africa, it was easy for any disaster to escalate and multiply its impact due to lack of planning and preparation towards it.
Mr Annor-Dompreh made the call in Parliament when he presented a statement on the need for convention to plan, control and manage disaster in the Sub-region and the world.
“Per statistics available, out of every 100 disasters reported worldwide, only 20 percent occur in Africa, but Africa suffers 60 percent of all disaster related deaths.
“Africa’s natural hazards are mainly epidemics, endemic diseases, drought, floods, agricultural pests and bush fires. Parts of the continent are also susceptible to earthquakes, cyclone, and volcanic eruptions.
“The natural hazards interact with manmade ones, such as armed conflicts, air, road and railway incidents, other industrial hazards such as mining accidents, chemical spills and with widespread vulnerability speak volumes of a time-bomb of danger that lurk around.”
Mr Annor-Dompreh also stated that Africa was highly limited and handicapped when it comes to disaster management not just to its severity but the capacity of the people living in disaster-prone areas to prepare for and resist it.
He said effort to reduce disaster risks should therefore focus on developing early warning systems to provide timely and effective information that would enable people and communities to respond when a disaster occurs.
He explained that the early warning systems should be tools and processes embedded within institutional structures, coordinated by international and sometimes national disaster agencies.
Mr Annor-Dompreh also called on African governments to put in place consistent measures to prevent disasters or build support system to adequately respond to such unpleasant situations when they occur.
He urged African countries to strengthen their Disaster Risk Management systems by developing appropriate laws and policies that adequately build capacities in various ministries such as the Ministry of Health, build community preparedness and resilience structures, strengthen awareness and develop national standards for response.
He said this would ensure that the health system was prepared and would be able to provide adequate health sector response to emergencies and to reduce their likelihood of becoming disasters.
Mr Annor-Dompreh noted that the non-existence of international and local conventions to address disasters was a great disadvantage and the need to procure one was long over-due.
“We all know how conventions work to support relevant matters such as these and so it is surprising that at this age and time, we lack it” added.
Mr Samuel Okudzeto- Ablakwa, Ranking Member on the Committee on Foreign Affairs in his contribution called on governments in Africa to invest disaster management and risk reduction.
He said Africa cannot sit and wait for the International Community to come to their support anytime there was disaster on the continent.
He cited for example during the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana showed leadership and also became the centre for the United Nations (UN) to mobilise support for the intervention in those countries.
Mr Okudzeto- Ablakwa also charged ECOWAS to put in place measures for a Disaster Fund so that when the disasters occur it would not require West African Leaders waiting for the UN or going to western countries to beg for support.
“At least we can then have the resources needed for the first batch of response we can put together” he added.