Windhoek-The World Food Programme and Office of the Prime Minister’s Directorate of Disaster Risk Management are making headway in an effort to strengthen the knowledge and skills of relevant partners, government and regional council staff in humanitarian response and preparedness as a means to prepare, prevent, respond or recover from disasters in the country.
Emergency response preparedness (ERP) is not a plan on a shelf but is rather an integrated and holistic process, encompassing risk monitoring, operational capabilities of all stakeholders, decision-making processes, coordination and implementation, said Bai Sankoh, United Nations Namibia World Food Programme (WFP) country director, at the recent emergency response preparedness workshop.
According to Sankoh, the emergency preparedness and response plans need to be a living document, that is periodically adapted to changing circumstances and that provides a guide to the protocols, regulations, procedures, and division of responsibilities in emergency response.
“As climate change continues to have negative impacts on the environment at an alarming pace, I am in fact informed that floods have already started in some parts of the country. Therefore, the need to strengthen emergency preparedness and response capacities is crucial. A workshop of this nature is therefore timely for Namibia,” Sankoh explained.
With regard to how the disaster risk governance at the national, regional and local levels is very important for prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, and rehabilitation, Sankoh said that the United Nations is working with the government in achieving Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals in line with its mandate to prevent, mitigate and prepare for disasters in Namibia.
As a result, he stressed, the United Nations will continue to work with the government to strengthen its capacity to prepare for, assess and respond to disasters, and to strengthen national policies and plans that address the impact of these disasters.
“This workshop has offered not only theoretical but practical techniques in the whole ERP process. Several important insights and action items were accomplished through this workshop, including understanding the ERP approach, recognizing the need to review respective minimum preparedness actions (MPAs), adopting the ERP approach for contingency planning, gaining valuable inputs to the standard operating procedures (SOPs), desktop simulation exercise, and finally deliberation on the way forward in emergency preparedness,” Sankoh said.
He pointed out that the simulation exercise has clearly demonstrated that the government has the primary role to prevent and reduce disaster risk but the responsibility is shared with other stakeholders including regional and local government, the private sector and other stakeholders including the United Nations and communities.
In the same vein, he is positive that Namibia will be known as one of the countries with exemplary emergency preparedness and response once the participants get back to their own environments to utilize the concepts and skills that they have gained at the workshop and put them to good use.
On his part, Jafet Iitenge, director for the Directorate of Disaster Risk Management in the Office of the Prime Minister, expressed appreciation for the commitment and contribution of the WFP in ensuring that the workshop was possible.