Training on evidence-informed decision making on environmental disasters underway

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By Aisha Tamba

A three-day high-level government officials training on evidence-informed decision making on environmental disasters organised by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Regional Office for West Africa (Sahel) in Dakar last Tuesday kicked off at Tendaba Camp.

The training purely targets permanent secretaries (priority 1), deputy permanent secretaries (priority 2) and directors only, with a few identified technicians from key institutions.

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The training is funded through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. It is the Using Drones and Early Warning Systems for Pre- and Post-Floods Disaster Management in The Gambia project.

The aim of the training is to raise awareness of decision makers on early warning, particularly on flood management; to help decision makers on making decisions on environmental disasters, and to streamline environmental disasters in the National Development Plan for informed decisions.

In his opening statement, Sanna Dahaba, executive director of National Disaster Management Agency, NDMA said the significance attached to the project will require the understanding of senior government officials for a sustainable implementation.

He pointed out that the specific objectives of the training are to strengthen the capacity of individuals and their institutions to access, evaluate and effectively apply scientific knowledge generated by research to identify relevant policy options and provide more informed policy advice; to raise the awareness and motivation of individuals and institutions for evidence-based decision-making; as well as to encourage the sustainability of the use of science in public policy.

He highlighted that Early Warning is essential in addressing vulnerability because it enhances climate information services, which enables preparedness and response to disasters.

Dahaba admitted that NDMA and partners are challenged with a lack of early warning systems for the past years, saying this has increased the number of affected populations in the country, with little or no effective preparedness plan in place.

“The project will help the country in achieving its targets in the DNP, SDG, as well as enhance the establishment of a functional early warning system and reporting Target G of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030,” Dahaba said.

Dr Anthony Maduekwe, programmes specialist for the Natural Sciences at Unesco Regional Multi-sectoral Office for West Africa – Sahel in his remarks, said the role and significance of the systematic use of evidence for decision and policy-making is now becoming apparent to many in developing countries, saying an accurate, concise and unbiased synthesis of the available evidence is arguably one of the most valuable contributions a research community can offer decision-makers.

“In many countries, several organisations are already producing powerful examples of synthesised evidence. However, too few researchers and policy makers know about them; too few understand how to produce or commission good syntheses; and too many are reaching for information that is out of date, incomplete or biased, sometimes from just one study or researcher”, he remarked.

Upper River Region Governor, Fanta Bojang-Samateh, said for the past years, regions have been hit with disasters especially URR, LRR and CRR. These regions are prone to disasters,” she said.

“It is therefore high time for decision and policy-makers to sit together and map out ways to combat the problem before and after they occur,” she said.

Marjorie Alain of Partnership for Economic Policy, said during her work with researchers over the past 10 years, she has seen how knowledge between the knowledge producer and the knowledge user impacts decisions and their outcomes.

She thanked NDMA for organising the training she described as extremely important in helping communities and decision makers.

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