A-two-day ECOWAS Regional media training on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management organised by the ECOWAS Commission for 25 participants from English speaking member countries yesterday, Wednesday concluded in Accra, Ghana.
The objectives of the training workshop was to further train media organsations about Disaster Risk Reduction and Management issues and how to report appropriately on hazards and their impact on social development; how to play key roles in creating awareness and disseminating information about Disaster Risk and Vulnerability of the people and livelihoods; to use media to raise community and national awareness about disasters, promote the use of knowledge and build the culture of safety and resilience in the region; and to enhance various advanced communication means for giving early warning, evacuation plans and help post-disaster activities.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mohammed Ibrahim, head of ECOWAS Humanitarian and DRR Division, said Africa is acknowledged to be the most vulnerable continent to natural hazards and to climate change with negative impacts on the economic and social development of the entire continent.
"In West Africa, the extent of vulnerability and risk exposure and losses from disasters are expected to continue to increase over the next decades," he added saying: "Floods and drought remain the most serious disasters in West Africa."
He noted that a lot of efforts are being made by various stakeholders including governments, non-governmental organisations, regional organisations as well as the United Nations to address global disaster risk reduction concerns.
He highlighted that response to disasters alone is not sufficient to meet the increasing demand caused by hazard impacts on large populations and therefore important to share knowledge that can help with identifying hazards and risks, taking action to build safety and resilience, and reducing future hazards impact.
"Communities and individuals can become partners in this, he revealed, adding: "public awareness and public education for disaster risk reduction can empower normal people everywhere to participate in reducing future suffering."
"As the fourth power, the media has a vital role to play in disaster risk reduction efforts," he remarked, noting that "journalists must ensure information provided alerts the affected public, helps communities prepare for disaster and focuses on how and where to seek help in the event of a disaster."
According to him, newspapers, radios, televisions and other media institutions have an important role to play in raising awareness and disclosing information about these disasters.
"The coverage of the various disasters that occur each year arouses attention, sometimes even the alarm of the public at national, regional and international levels," Mr Ibrahim further said.
Madam Charlotte Norman, director of disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change for the National Disaster Management Organisation of Ghana in her opening statement said media reporting plays a very critical role before, during and after disaster occurs.
She hopes that the knowledge gained will go a long way in helping participants' respective countries in disaster risk reporting.