New working group to step up disaster readiness


03-July-2009

The reconstituted National Disaster Committee (NDC) – responsible for ensuring that adequate procedures to deal with disaster situations and relief measures are planned, with strong legislation to empower its activities – met for the first time on Wednesday at State House. The last meeting was in January 2007.

Ms Athanasius (at head of table) launching the working session on Wednesday

During the working session launched by principal secretary in the Office of the Vice-President Lucy Athanasius – who is also responsible for the Department of Risk and Disaster Management (DRDM) – Red Cross Society of Seychelles president Colette Servina was elected as the committee’s new secretary.

Addressing the members, Mrs Athanasius said disaster management is a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary issue that can only be tackled when everybody comes together to fight against manmade or natural disasters.

She reminded them that as members and decision-makers, they should coordinate their programmes and build a national network that can respond to the country’s needs in cases of disaster.

No matter what the potential hazard, she said, it is very important that via the NDC well-coordinated efforts are made to ensure careful planning and to control the use of both human and physical resources to save lives and properties.

“We must also ensure that regular training is carried out for members and employees of the NDC, as well as our communities, covering all aspects of relief, rescue, management and welfare,” she added.

Mrs Athanasius also asked committee members to familiarise themselves with their assigned responsibilities.

She ended by urging them to work together to develop an effective management strategy to reduce the impact of disasters.

Director-general of the DRDM Michel Vielle gave a presentation on its mandate to coordinate the improvement of disaster preparedness in the country and also a report on the department’s projects and activities.

Also during yesterday’s working session, committee members heard a presentation on AH1N1 influenza (swine flu) by Dr Anne Gabriel. This is part of the department’s preparation for a forthcoming table-top simulation of action against the virus should it reach Seychelles.

The NDC has already drafted a national disaster management policy, which is about to be submitted to the cabinet of ministers for approval. It is also receiving help from the United Nations Development Programme to draw up a national disaster response plan, which will incorporate all existing plans in the country.

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