The UNDP resident coordinator to The Gambia, Ade Mamonyane Lakotje, has underscored the significance of prevention and building resilience by reducing loss of life. She affirmed that material possessions can be replaced but not the lives of people.
Madam Ade made this remark as The Gambia joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) in the Upper River Region town of Basse.
Held every October 13, the day is set aside by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 to reflect on disasters and risk reduction issues globally, with a focus on the seven Sendai targets; raising awareness on these targets and promoting institutional and financial commitments towards their implementation. This year’s celebration was held on the theme: “Live to Tell”.
Madam Ade challenged stakeholders to remain conscious that the gender dimensions play a critical role in reducing mortality. “While we strive to eradicate extreme poverty, events perpetrating disaster impacts continue to affect the lives of people. Our preoccupation in these times, and in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) whose objectives are embedded in the 2030 [Sustainable] Development Agenda, is to reduce loss of lives from disaster, in the words of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon,” she said.
She used the opportunity to gauge the understanding of the school children on the MDGs and SDGs of the United Nations. She as well spoke on the collaborative efforts of the UN system with government in managing disasters. She recounted some of the major accomplishments the UN agencies had with the government and pledged the UN’s continued support to DRR initiatives, especially in awareness raising.
Omar Badgie, executive director of Action Aid The Gambia in his remarks stressed that disasters are inevitable but raising awareness is crucial in prevention. He urged for reflection on past disasters to enable understanding of what “work well and what did not work well” so as to enhance our planning for DRR.
He reiterated his institution’s continued commitment to collaborate with the NDMA and other stakeholders to pursue DRR activities in The Gambia
For his part, Lt. Col. Alhajie Sanneh, the executive director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) informed the gathering of the successes registered by the Agency over the years. He disclosed that the number of households affected by the windstorm and floods in the country in 2016 amounts to over 9000.
Lt. Col. Sanneh called for more investment in DRR programmes, noting that education and awareness creation can bring about the results so desired in disaster prevention and preparedness.
by Saffiatou Colley