By: Momodou Justice Darboe
The Vice President of The Gambia, Muhammed B.S Jallow, has said the National Disaster Management database reveals a decline in the number of people affected by disasters from 2021 to date.
“This can be attributed to the government and its partners implementing preparedness, early warning, and early action measures on an annual basis. In this regard, specific appreciation is accredited to the United Nations Systems in The Gambia, Non-Governmental organizations, Local Councils, and government departments supporting disaster mitigation and social assistance,” VP Jallow acknowledged as he spoke on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on Thursday.
The Vice President, however, pointed out that the government is still confronted with numerous challenges in implementing its programs to reduce the impacts of all forms of disasters.
“Despite the progress The Gambia has registered over the years, the government still faces numerous challenges in implementing its programs to achieve national and international frameworks for reducing the impacts of all forms of disasters. Therefore, I am calling on the private sector to participate more in Disaster Risk Reduction efforts,” the VP stated. He added:“Additionally, for timely collection, harmonization and reporting on data to the Sendai monitor, I called on partners and stakeholders to collaborate with the government through the National Disaster Management Agency for the fulfillment of commitments.
“On behalf of the Government and People of the Gambia, I express our profound gratitude to all our partners including WFP, World Bank Group, UNDP, UNFPA, FAO and UNESCO for their support in disaster risk reduction efforts. Further, I enjoin all stakeholders to renew their commitment and double efforts in advocacy and timely preparedness for disaster mitigation. Collectively, we can mitigate and reduce the impact of disaster.”
The Vice President explained that the creation of the National Disaster Management Agency(NDMA) was borne out of the Gambia’s dedication to investing in disaster risk reduction.
According to him, the Gambia’s commitment to investing in risk reduction led to the enhancement of the government’s sectorial policies and the setting in place of enforcement and monitoring mechanisms.
“The ultimate goal is to ensure that our national policy on Disaster Risk Reduction aligns with the Sendai agenda. Currently, the National disaster management policy and strategy are undergoing review to develop a smart action plan. The updated policy and strategy will address emerging issues and promote resilience building,” the Vice President highlighted.
“It’s worth noting that the government is taking steps to enhance the Disaster Risk Reduction agenda by prioritizing the allocation of additional resources to boost the country’s resilience programs. This includes augmenting budgetary allocations for disaster risk reduction and enhancing bilateral and multilateral cooperation to improve resilience building,” he added.
VP Jallow said the government has directed its disaster management operational approaches towards the dissemination of early warning information, promotion of attitudinal change, ensuring environmental sustainability and the enhancement of disaster risk governance.
“On the global front, Gambia was among the first African countries to submit a report in 2018 to the Sendai Monitor on the seven global targets of the Sendai Framework (2015-2030),” the VP recognized.
He explained that The Gambia is making progress towards hitting the Sendai framework’s targets, especially the target that aims to “significantly” lessen the number of people affected by disasters.
“In 2015 at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, it was emphasized that disasters have the greatest impact at the local level, leading to loss of life and significant social and economic disruption. This forum gave birth to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Noting that every year, millions of people are displaced by sudden-onset disasters, which are often worsened by climate change,” he recalled. “These disasters have a detrimental effect on sustainable development and its outcomes and hindering investments.”
“This year’s theme “Fighting Inequality for a Resilient Future” aligns with the Sendai Framework which aims to prevent and minimize losses in lives, livelihoods, economies, and infrastructure. This framework works alongside the Paris Agreement on climate change to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” he stated.
According to the Vice President, this year’s International Day will focus on the connection between disasters and inequality, highlighting their reciprocal relationships.
“The objective of disaster risk reduction is to prevent and decrease the risk of disasters, as well as manage any remaining risk, all of which aid in enhancing resilience and ultimately achieving sustainable development,” he explained.
“On this Day, governments and communities participate in a variety of events such as speeches, sensitization campaigns, and dramatic performances, among others, that raise awareness about disaster reduction and boost preparedness for such situations,” the VP explained.