By Alhgaie Babou Jallow
The West Coast Region’s disaster management office and Saama Kairo Federation have taken a rather congenial and compassionate direction in preparing people for possible disaster. With support from Saama Kaira, a ChildFund The Gambia affiliated federation, the two agencies established and trained district disaster committees in Kombo East and Central.
For three years, these two districts are part of the most vulnerable in West Coast Region in terms of floods and windstorm. In 2016, Kombo East was registered the hardest hit disaster with 99 households affected while Kombo Central registered 54 households. Out of a regional population of 3363 persons, it indicates that the combined data for the two districts outnumbered the remaining seven districts.
The regional disaster coordinator, Binta Sey-Jadama said the region is vulnerable to disaster and that reminds the population that a paradigm shift from response to preparedness and prevention is required.
She told the Saama Kairo officials that they are operating in a very vulnerable region whose sole source of livelihood depends on agriculture and fishing, which are also being threatened by climate related hazards.
Mrs. Sey-Jadama said timely risk reduction equals poverty reduction and economic development and with the combination of these efforts, investment prospects and plans can be nurtured to reduce humanitarian needs in the country. “This can only be done in a multi faceted manner through strong networking and partnership.”
Manager of Saama Kairo Federation Edrissa Cham said their operation is focusing on children and youth who, he said came from families and communities. “Children are part of the community and disaster has no boundary when it strikes.”
He said his agency feels that instead of providing response to disaster, why can’t they now partner with the regional disaster management agency to prepare for its prevention. “We will now have a plan for disaster rick-reduction at districts level,” Mr. Cham said.
He said when disasters strike, schools are most of the time used as shelter for the victims, saying he is hopeful that after the participants acquire the understanding of their roles as disaster officers, the risk will now be reduced.
In the past years, flood disaster has been the most damaging incident in Brikama while Kombo East experiences windstorm. “These structures are the entry point into the communities and if they are not active, it can cause havoc when disaster strikes.”