GIS – 28 November 2016: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministerial Meeting for Ministers Responsible for Disaster Risk Management was held on 26 November 2016 at the InterContinental Resort, Balaclava. The Government in collaboration with the SADC Secretariat hosted this strategic meeting to deliberate on the ‘Draft SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy and Fund’.
Present at the meeting, the Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms and Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management, Mr Alain Wong, stated that we have all witnessed that frequent natural disasters and unprecedented climate change are becoming significant game changers in the SADC sub-region.
In fact, exposure to natural and climate-related disasters has increased faster than the decrease of vulnerability, he said, adding that against this backdrop, the hard-earned gains in the sub-region are increasingly being threatened, and it is always the poorest and most vulnerable who are being disproportionately affected.
According to him, to make things worse, SADC countries are not on the same level playing field as regards Disaster Risk Reduction and management. Most often, institutional and legal frameworks for national disaster management are weak, he said, underlining that the lack of information and knowledge management systems seriously hinder comprehensive risk assessments and analysis.
“At times, disaster risk management is downright overlooked, under‐funded and uncoordinated, thus generating new risks and a steady rise in disaster-related losses”, Minister Wong said.
Moreover, he recalled that despite the gaps and challenges that hinder progress in achieving Disaster Risk Reduction, SADC countries are sparing no efforts in striving to mainstream in national policies and planning strategies. Mauritius, for example, has strengthened its national Disaster Risk Reduction institutional framework by setting up the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre in 2003, and reinforced the legal setup by promulgating the resultant Act earlier this year, he added.
In addition to outlining disaster response mechanisms and defining the roles and responsibilities of all Disaster Risk Reduction actors at central level, this piece of legislation also decentralises Disaster Risk Reduction, he said, adding that it empowers Local Authorities to undertake risk analysis and vulnerability assessment as well as to act in the event of disasters.
Minister Wong underlined that the SADC Secretariat has always been at the forefront in addressing issues of strategic priority to the sub-region and is among the Regional Economic Communities to translate the African Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy into action. Consequently, the adoption of the ‘Draft SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy and Fund’ will be an integral part of global and regional efforts deployed to enhance resilience in line with the objectives of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, he underscored.
The SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy and Fund will be instrumental in strengthening preparedness and response for early recovery in the SADC region by 2030. The Strategy and Fund will be anchored in the culture of prevention, safety and resilience building.
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