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20.04.2004 Disaster

Disaster Management workshop opens in Accra

By GNA

Accra, April 20, GNA - Mr Thomas Broni, Deputy Minister of the Interior, on Tuesday said the devastating effects of disaster on national development needed explicit national policy on disaster risk reduction to help control and manage such events.

"Effective disaster management also requires consistent advocacy programmes for political authorities and the legislature, in addition to public awareness by the citizenry", he indicated. Currently, the national policy for disaster management has no specific disaster risk reduction.

Speaking at the opening of a National Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction in Accra, Mr Broni called for cooperation and coordination among all stakeholders and partners to tackle "this multi-disciplinary and inter-institutional undertaking" that undermined progress in achieving sustainable development.

More than 50 participants from the various Ministries, Security and Environmental Agencies and officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) are attending the three-day workshop. It is being organised by the United Nations and the Ministry of the Interior under the theme: "Disaster Reduction Towards Sustainable Development."

Mr Broni stated that though Ghana might not be regarded as one of the most disaster-prone countries in Africa, occurrences of natural hazards like floods, droughts, bushfires, diseases and pest infestations had had their severe impacts on human lives and the national economy as a whole.

He said since the Government regarded issues of disaster as very important, it had included disaster management as a focal area under the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy, aimed at reducing extreme poverty and social deprivation.

The Deputy Minister said there was, therefore, the need to improve and re-orient the human resource base of the disaster management structure, enhance knowledge and understanding of disaster risk reduction principles and improve compliance with technical measures, such as land use, planning and development controls, codes and standards.

Dr Alfred Fawundu, United Nations (UN) Resident Representative in Ghana, in a speech read for him, said a recent research indicated that the main sources of vulnerability were poverty and development pressures, fragile and degraded environments, epidemic, diseases and governance issues.

Dr Fawundu said disasters and development were related because the root causes of disasters were contained in present-day developmental processes, adding, "so it should be tackled as a developmental concern". He said the UN Community would continue to collaborate with other partners to expand its scope to focus on support for interventions aimed at reducing the risk of disasters in Ghana.

The workshop would discuss the existing gaps in disaster risk reduction in Ghana, how to integrate disaster risk reduction principles in sectoral development and roles expected of major stakeholders. Its findings would also form part of the process of a national review for the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in the Japanese city of Kobe in January 2005.

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