New law to help disaster handling


11-October-2011

Delegates in a souvenir photograph with guests after the opening ceremony yesterday

This came out at a regional workshop organised by the Seychelles government and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) at the Ephilia Resort.

The meeting, aimed at putting in place measures needed to best deal with possible emergencies, was officially opened by Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy Minister Joel Morgan in a ceremony coordinated by director general Alain De Comarmond of the Risk and Disaster Management Division.

Guests at the ceremony included Health Minister Erna Athanasius, while delegates are national and regional disaster risk reduction managers from SADC countries, teams from United Nations agencies, international partners, non-governmental organisations, donors and civil society representatives.

“The new law will define a clear disaster response structure showing people’s responsibilities, and give the necessary backing to take legal action needed for emergency personnel to respond,” said Mr De Comarmond.

It will also help protect members of the public and emergency workers from injury, he said.
During simulated emergency exercises, some units have at times come to a standstill for lack of clear structures and poor communication, where those in charge have not been well identified.

Mr De Comarmond said the law will fill up such gaps.
Mr Morgan said SADC countries on the mainland have recently suffered disasters from either too much rain, as in flooding cases, or too little when there has been drought and famine.

For Seychelles and Mauritius, as well as many parts of western Africa, disasters caused by insufficient rain have been the problem, he said, noting we had to recently invest heavily in desalination plants to ease the water crises we faced.

He said while many of the disasters are natural in nature, lack of adequate infrastructure, facilities and preparedness are major contributing factors which amplify their impacts on economies, health and livelihoods while weakening the countries’ resilience and ability to cope with further disasters.

He said partnership among SADC countries will help regional coordination and forge important partnerships that will allow sharing of expertise when disasters strike.

Countries of the region share common issues of concern and through partnerships, the necessary expertise can be identified and given to improve and strengthen structures at the regional and national level, he said.

At the end of the meeting’s five days, the delegates are expected to launch the SADC Disaster Risk Reduction Platform and put in place the necessary preparedness measures needed to meet any possible emergencies, typically related to floods and droughts, during the next rainy or cyclone season this and next year.

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