28 November 2012

Liberia: GOL Blamed for Poor Disaster Management

The Liberian government has come under serious criticism for not implementing the country's policies on disaster prevention and management.

Citizens from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, Montserrado and Gbarpolu counties, currently attending a UNDP funded regional training workshop on climate change and disaster risk management are urging government to implement policies on the book.

In an interactive session at the workshop, participants pointed out that government's continuous delay or seeming lack of will to act on disaster issues is unhealthy for the population.

They specifically spoke of government's failure to act against sea erosion in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County and parts of Monrovia.

The workshop, organized by the National Disaster Relief Commission at the Ministry of Internal Affairs is being held under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program, World Food Programme, and UNMIL.

The purpose of the training is to empower participants with the knowledge that would build their resilience to disasters and mitigate climate change effects on their lives and livelihoods. It is also intended to create awareness of climate change, disaster risks management and the increasing link between climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Rennie Jackson said, disaster is not a one person problem, noting that the training is necessary for people to be aware of preventive measures. Deputy Minister Jackson pledged government's support to the training exercise and called for more local and international training opportunities.

Speaking on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, facilitator Kumeh S. Assaf said there is growing evidence that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards, and the level and patterns of often inter-related risks, exacerbating levels of vulnerability for poor and excluded people.

He noted that disaster triggered by natural and climate induced events destroy lives, livelihoods and properties, adding that disasters affect millions of people - rich or poor every year and in every country of the world.

Mr. Assaf, who also works with the UNDP, told participants that in the last decade, one million people were killed in disasters and a total of US$1 trillion lost in property values; yet only 1% of aid money is spent on preparation and management, among others.

"We can reduce human, physical and financial costs of disasters by understanding the risks and applying the best methods of prevention and mitigation," he said.

He said the impacts on physical environment (infrastructure), vulnerable ecosystems, changes to socio-economic sectors, impacts on the most vulnerable people (women, children, the elderly and physically challenged) and loss of physical and human assets are among some impacts of climate change.

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