Gambia: Disaster Management

editorial

It is good to once again see stakeholders reaffirm their commitment to tackle the effects of disaster at community level. This latest move, which came courtesy of a three-day synergy organised by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with a view to arming stakeholders with knowledge on planning for community-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change, indicates that efforts are being made to promote pro-activeness in the country's disaster risk reduction scheme.

The significance of the synergy cannot be overemphasised. As we have always stated, for there to be a successful limitation of the perpetual seasonal disaster in our communities, particularly those prone to flooding, there is the need to promote a more people-centered approach in the process, because the principal resources of any community are its inhabitants and local stakeholders, who play an important part in the development processes. It follows that the people have thorough knowledge of the area and are familiar with the factors that generate risk and limit development.

Consequently, they are the best managers to guarantee sustainable development and harmonious coexistence of society and the environment. Therefore, active involvement of all, dedication and teamwork among all stakeholders in the area will without doubt ensure realisation of sustainable local development and disaster risk reduction.

More importantly, those who have a stake in development have to be associated with the process of hazard, vulnerability and risk assessment as well as planning to reduce the impacts of natural disasters. And also, general awareness has to be raised so that the communities can understand the importance of disaster risk management and act accordingly.

Preparedness initiatives should flow down to the community and household levels, and social norms should serve to build resilient communities by not only improving services but also making them safe. More efforts are also needed for the mainstreaming of disaster reduction strategies into local governance system.

Furthermore, to guarantee sustainability to development processes, disaster risk reduction must be conceived as an on-going process of planning and implementing prevention and alleviation measures that must be designed to address the situations before, during and after the occurrence of disaster.

To build more resilient communities, it is imperative that we strengthen the process of information sharing, strategic planning, dissemination and networking through the empowerment of the local people.

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