NAMs discusses Draft NDM Bill 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The National Disaster Management Committee under the Office of the Vice Presid_ent yesterday convened a one day sensitisation workshop for National Assembly Members on the Draft National Disater Management Bill 2008 at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
With support from the UNDP under the National Disaster Management Support Project, the Draft National Disaster Management Bill (2008) is designed to provide for an integrated and coordinated disaster management that focuses on prevention, preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery from disasters or emergencies as well as the management of the effects from such events.
It is also designed to establish a National Disaster Management Council, a National Disaster Management Organisation and to reinforce Regional, District Disaster Management Committees, and Coordinating Offices and for matters connected therewith.
Declaring the seminar opened, Fatou Jasseh-Kuyateh, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Vice President who deputised for Vice President Njie-Saidy, recalled that over the past ten years, The Gambia has experienced a number of natural disasters, man-made catastrophes and other calamities that have combined both.
She said these unpleasant situations often disrupt the daily lives of the affected population, which resulted in the loss of life, shelter, clothing and food insecurity thereby worsening the poverty situation.
"Cases in point were the severe floods in 1999 and 2003 in the Upper River Region and in many parts of the country. These floods affected 13.1 per cent of the overall population.
Other cases were the Serrekunda Market fire disasters, the Kanifing East Estate fire incident, the Ebo Town floods in 2007. All these incidents negatively and significantly affected private businesses and the economy at large as well as the loss of vital human resources for the country" she said.
PS Jasseh-Kuyateh then emphasised that, there is a strong need to develop an integrated and effective disaster mitigation office with clear legal authority to undertake a revised method of disaster planning.
This she added, calls for the institutionalization and mainstreaming of disaster risk into the government decentralization programme and the PRSP. She then commended the UNDP for the unwavering support rendered to the Disaster Management Project for the timely implementation of a comprehensive disaster management framework for The Gambia.
She also recognised the efforts of the NGOs, UN agencies, the private sector, public co-operations, civil society organisations, private individuals, the embassy of the Republic of China on Taiwan and many others who continue to give their support and assistance to communities in times of disasters.
In her keynote address, Fatoumatta Jahumpa-Ceesay, Speaker of the National Assembly described the sensitisation workshop as very important and timely for two reasons; it is about an issues that affects the lives and livelihoods of people in constituencies represented by National Assembly Members and it will also enable NAMs to fully conversant with the complexities raised in the proposed bill prior to its formal enactment at the National Assembly.
She added that it also signifies the importance the government of The Gambia under the able, visionary and dynamic leadership of President Dr Alhagie Yahya AJJ Jammeh attaches to the issues of disaster management and by extension poverty reduction and the timely attainment of the MDG targets.
According to her, The Gambia is not immune to such natural calamities noting that the recent floods in Ebo Town, Kuntaur, Basse and Sinchu Baliya are but few examples of what happens when human behaviours and interactions begin to interfere with nature.
She then stated that these disaster reduction actions that have been used have significantly reduced the impact of natural and human induced calamities in our communities, but, on the other hand, have not prevented homes, crops, social services, infrastructure and livelihoods from being wiped out by floods and other natural and human instigated events.
With climate change pushing the world towards more frequent extreme weather, Speaker FJC stated that the situation is likely to get worse globally and this unpleasant scenario will make lives even harder and exacerbate high poverty levels.
She then announced that the Gambia has done extremely well on the PRSP and the macroeconomic climate is conducive for further investment and growth.
These significant achievements she added, must be protected, as they are the results of hard work, under a dedicated, visionary, dynamic leadership and Pan Africanist, President Dr Alhaji Yahya AJJ Jammeh. She added that reducing the impact of natural and human instigated disaster requires a comprehensive approach which entails the establishment of a National Disaster Risk Management System and the strengthening of National Disaster Management Institutions.
Speaker FJC stated that the steps taken by The government of The Gambia with support from the UNDP to establish, restructure, strengthen and train committees at national, regional and local levels, the public awareness that has been conducted and the development of a draft National Disaster Management Policy and Strategic Action Plan are indeed actions in the right direction that required to be harnessed by all partners.
She then expressed appreciation to the Office of the Vice President for their vision and foresight in addressing the disaster management issues that are exceedingly crucial in alleviating poverty especially among the vulnerable groups in society. She also thanked the UNDP for their support in this humanitarian endeavour and to the National Disaster Managment Committee, Regional Governors, Mayors, NAMs, UN agencies in The Gambia and other local NGOs, partners and the consultant in developing this comprehensive Draft bill.
For his part, Mamour A. Jagne, UNDP Officer-In-Charge on behalf of the UNDP representative in The Gambia said, the disaster management project, which is providing support for the enactment of this Bill, was signed between the UNDP and the Government of The Gambia in April 2005 with the main objective of supporting the development of a comprehensive disaster management framework in The Gambia to improve national capacities to anticipate, manage and respond to disasters through the establishment of a national institution and local level structures.
According to him, since its inceptions, the disaster management project has succeeded in conducting a national vulnerability and capacity assessment exercise, developed a national hazard profile, disaster management policy and action plan, finalized the national action plan for avian influenza, established and restructured disaster management committees at national and regional levels, coupled with the requisite capacity development activities, inter alia.
Taking a quick preview of the draft bill, Mr Jagne noted that, one can see that it covers most of the areas and issues pertaining to the establishment and operation of the national disaster management office, including establishment and functions of the national council and regional committees, disaster management plans at various national disaster management office itself. He then urged NAMs to take a critical review of this important legal framework and exploit the expertise of the resource persons.
Author: by Alhagie Jobe