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Saturday, February 27, 2021

EU charge d’ affairs rues Gambia’s proneness to disaster

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Speaking Tuesday at an event organised by the National disaster management agency in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme at the Senegambia Beach Hotel, she said: 

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“The Gambia has been struck by disaster for the past few years and it is one of the most vulnerable countries to disaster in the world. Over the last few years, Gambians continue to be hit by disasters. In 2011 there was a drought. 2014 looks to be a repeat of that. By creating the National Disaster Management Agency, The Gambia recognised that sustainable development; poverty reduction, good governance and disaster risk reduction are mutually supportive objectives and has set out a number of goals and priorities through National Disaster Risk Management Strategy, Policy and Programs. The Gambia is one of the most vulnerable to disaster countries in the world. There are a wide variety and significant number of natural hazards and associated risks and studies have revealed a high level of peoples’ exposure to disaster. After major flooding in 2010, the European Union has approved the drainage and sanitation program to cope with the problem in a number of areas in The Gambia with financing from the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO).

 It is also through ECHO supporting numerous disaster risk management activities around the world, that the EU shows how much it considers disaster management and risk reduction as a major priority. As a result of disasters, both the Government and People of The Gambia have to adopt resilience and coping strategies to survive the impact of the disaster and set themselves quickly back on the path to normality. We know that there is insufficient disaster data in The Gambia. The current disaster data clearly reflects the need for a more comprehensive system of collection, recording, vulnerability analysis for building disaster resilient communities in the country”.

She stated that there is need for further collection and analysis of data to enhance projection and preparation for future outbreaks of disaster.

 “This would allow both the government and the donors to be aware of emerging risks in advance and facilitate a timely humanitarian response. As part of this process, the current leadership of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) to manage and coordinate disaster risk reduction efforts in The Gambia is important. Now, the NDMA has started working toward collecting data on local hazards and analysing associated risks. It is a welcome initiative and I hope that these activities will continue to help the government and the people of The Gambia adopt risk reduction and resilience strategies based on accurate data.Part of the NDMAs role is the collection of data, considered essential in order to have an understanding of the underlying trends. Data has to be comparable over time and correspond to the needs of those that are likely to use it, either for building disaster resilient communities or disaster preparedness. From a donor perspective, this is important because preparedness cannot only reduce the impact of disaster and its cost, but the process also allows for faster return to normality. 

Today we are here to appraise the work of NDMA in the field of local hazard, risk and adaptation data collection guidance, zoning and mapping .A report has been prepared with the initial findings of data collection on local hazards and analyzing associated risk. This is a welcome initiative and potentially useful tool The EU hopes these activities will continue in the coming years as part of The Gambia’s move towards a more resilience based approach. Congratulations to all involved in the progress being made in the Gambia to address risk reduction and resilience governance though participatory approaches .In The Gambia people do not have control over the occurrence of hazards and their capacity to cope and recover from catastrophic events depends on individual levels of exposure to disaster vulnerability. That is why failure to understand the root causes of vulnerability only leads to additional disaster risk.”


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