Human Rights, Opinion, Politics

HER EXCELLENCY, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA SPEECH ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR DISASTER REDUCTION 2020

  • Vice president Dr. Touray

    Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of the Gambia, I take this opportunity to thank the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDR 2020). This day aims at promoting a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the progress being made toward reducing disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health.

The adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2030 has marked a new era in global efforts to reduce disasters on lives and properties for poverty alleviation as per the SDGs. I have the firm conviction that the theme for this year theme(Target e):“Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020”will significantly contribute to achieving the objectives and targets of the Sendai Framework.

 Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

Since 2015, The Gambia has committed itself to invest in risk reduction through the improvement of government sectorial policies, enforcement and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that our national policy is supportive to the Sendai agenda. As a result, the current National Development Plan (2018-2021), has prioritized disaster risk reduction through a series of consultations with citizens, including vulnerable groups.

VP Touray

It is important to mention that the government is strengthening the DRR agenda and has prioritized the allocation of more resources to the country’s resiliency programmes, such as increasing budgetary allocations to DRR. This move intends to increase the participation of local authorities in awareness raising in disaster management and environmental sustainability.

Through partnership with several groups such as the UN Systems and the African Union Commission (AUC), the government of the Gambia is supported in several areas that improve our capacity to reduce disaster.This is a clear manifestation that support is provided to The Gambia by the African Union Commission to review the Gambia’s DRR Strategy and Policy which will be aligned with the Sendai Framework and the AU Programme of Actions for the implementation of Sendai Framework for DRR 2015 – 2030. This indeed will make the Gambia to meet the global target e of the Sendai Framework; which we are observing today.

Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

I would like to further mention the achievements made in the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2030, which since the implementation and it reporting cycle has been met by the Gambia. The Gambia was among the first African countries to make the first reporting in 2018 of the Sendai Monitor on the seven global targets. These efforts have contributed immensely to reduction of disasters despite challenges.

The reporting this year is been challenged due to COVID-19, making the mobilization of stakeholders not possible as per the WHO Guidelines to validate the data. But the country is still committed to fulfilling its obligations as per the Sendai implementation agenda.

Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

 According to the UNDRR, a successful national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction require effective multi-stakeholder coordination mechanisms, an overarching national policy, trans disciplinary and multi sectoral collaboration and input, political support in approving legislation, and adequate financial, technical and human resources. These underlying conditions at national level can strengthen institutional capacity of sub national or local authorities to address disaster risk. Political commitment and trust are key to generating an all-of-society approach to managing risk before, during and after an emergency; the Government of His Excellency President Adama Barrow is taking the lead in implementation of Sendai Framework and this is well recognized by all, leading him to launch the first ever Bi-annual Report of the Programme of Action for the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030 in Africa. Good national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction includes links with sector policies in areas such as land use, building codes, public health, education, agriculture, environmental protection, energy, water resources, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation.

What this amounts to, is “good disaster risk governance.” The issues of good disaster risk governance are to identify and acknowledge, plan and act on disaster risk. This has come into sharp focus this year, as evidence accumulates that the failure of many countries to heed to the many warnings in recent years, and prepare for global threats such as a major pandemic like COVID-19.

For this reason, the Gambia as part of its decentralization process has established disaster coordination offices in all the administrative regions of the country. To ensures that each of these regions have the primary responsibility to prevent and reduce disaster risk, through effective multi-stakeholder coordination, proper planning, oversight of implementation and strengthening institutions with responsibility for disaster risk reduction;

COVID-19 tells us that it is time to act decisively on biological hazards by applying the risk management approach. This indeed, will be highly reflected in the plan revise DRR strategy and policy to reduce the impact of pandemic such as COVID-19 that we are all experiencing the gaps as our DRR strategies does not adequately reflect on such hazards. In filling these gaps, disaster risk reduction is an essential part of the recovery from COVID-19.

Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

The NDMA stands in solidarity with over 75,000people affected by various hazards this year and causing huge destruction to some critical infrastructures and displacements in the country. More than 4,000 households have lost part of their structures,resulting to the displacement of 15,000 people. Some public facilities such as four hospitals and six schools were affected and roads become no longer-motorable, bridges unusable and entire farmlands destroyed.

Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

Despite all these achievements, the NDMA still faces numerous challenges in terms of resources to implement its programs in achieving the national and international frameworks in the wake of reducing the impacts of disasters of all forms. In the reporting of the Sendai Framework, we face challenges in data harmonization with key partners which undermines the country’s commitment in addressing disasters both locally and internationally. I would urge the stakeholders to support the NDMA in its coordination role and to continue supporting the agency in other to achieve our collective goals as far as disaster is concern.

Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

The Goal for thisyear’s celebration is to provide an advocacy platform to all governments, local governments, health and education authorities, disaster management agencies, UN agencies, NGOs, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, civil society groups, academic and scientific institutions, and other interest groups to highlight the critical importance of disaster governance, with the provision of national and local DRR strategies globally.

Fellow Gambians and Friends of the Gambia,

Finally, on behalf of the Government and People of the Gambia, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the African Union Commission for their support in revising the country’s DRR strategy and policy to be aligned with the Sendai Framework and the AU Programme of Actions in the Implementation of Sendai Framework for DRR 2015 – 2030.

Happy International Day for Disaster Reduction to everyone.

Thank you for all for listening.

 

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