-UNDP Deputy Country Director
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Deputy Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, yesterday stated that disaster risk management reduces uncertainty, builds confidence, cuts costs and creates value.
Speaking during the opening of a two-day validation workshop hosted at Shangri La on the draft National Disaster Risk Management Policy, Strategy and Action Plan for Sierra Leone, Mohamed Abchir noted that the growing recognition of the aforementioned facts must be translated into more systematic approaches to disaster risk management that will make tomorrow’s world a safer place, especially for the most vulnerable.
He said low-income countries are most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters, as poverty and lack of resources decreased social resilience by weakening coping strategies and causing delays in recovery processes.
“Low-income countries account for more than 70% of the world’s disaster hotspots. According to a World Risk report from last year, Sierra Leone ranked 6 out of 15 most vulnerable countries globally. This is a particularly worrying trend, as there are indications that the country is increasingly vulnerable to man-made and natural disasters due to deforestation and unsustainable land management practices, among other causes,” he said.
According to him, the heavy storms observed during the peak of rainy season in Sierra Leone can dramatically increase the risks of floods and landslides and can have devastating impacts, especially for extremely poor communities squatting on steep hillsides and in river beds.
Mr. Abchir explained that the National Disaster Risk Management policy defines a robust national framework on disaster risk reduction and emergency response management in the country, while reiterating the unrelenting commitment of the United Nations to building environmental and social resilience in partnership with the government, in order to ensure continued progress of the nation on its path towards long-term sustainable development and prosperity for all.
“According to a 2013 recent evaluation, Sierra Leone is among the West African countries that are extremely vulnerable to the predicted impacts of climate change. The country is also ranked 3 out of the 10 most vulnerable countries globally, only preceded by Bangladesh and Guinea Bissau,” he revealed.
Deputy National Security Coordinator of the Office of National Security (ONS), Ishmael Tarawally, stated that disaster can be an issue for ill-prepared communities, while stressing the need for communities to be involved in disaster risk reduction programmes.
He called on all and sundry to work together to design a strategy that will militate against the impacts of disasters in the country and revealed that 20 million people in Africa face climatic risk disaster.
Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Defence and Security, Hon. Foday Rado Yokie warned that the country should be prepared for any risk that has the propensity of undermining the development gains made so far.
He called for the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and management in every development plan and assured of Parliament’s readiness and wiliness to enact the legal framework to support the draft policy.
Minister of State in the office of the Vice President, Madam Harriet Turay, who officially opened the workshop, expressed government’s delight at the participatory approach employed throughout the development of the policy.