By Fatoumatta K Jallow

The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission under the department of Social Affairs and Gender, commenced a three day workshop to strengthen the coordination mechanism and data collection for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), in the Gambia.
The purpose of the workshop is aimed at enabling member states to establish multi sectorial groups, to handle disaster risk reduction in their countries, in a more coherent and systematic approach.
The forum which was held on Tuesday October 2 at local hotel in the Senegambia area, brought together relevant stakeholders and members of the National Platform on DRR, and members of the National Disaster Management Council.
Deputy Permanent Secretary at the office of the Vice President Bintou Gassama Jammeh in her opening remarks, said the Gambia has been part of few countries in 2011 that were chosen to pilot a project for the establishment of the National Platform; that the aim of the project is to strengthen disaster management’s institutional framework through awareness creation among stakeholders, and provide technical service and assistance through preparation of DRR.

According to DPS Gassama Jammeh, the coordination of disaster management is the most challenging issue facing the NDMA; that this is partly because of the transfer of the institution from one sector, at some point; that this crippled communication, and it’s strategic management brought in some conflict of interest and competition, amongst other factors; that they will work as a government, to change the situation.
The Executive Director of NDMA Sanna Dahaba, said the forum is expected to propose policies to strengthen disaster management capacities in the country, highlight operational activities and strategies needed for increased accountability, and the participation of all relevant sectors and stakeholders in disaster management in the country.
“The role of local communities, local authorities, CSOs and the private sector, is to increase regional and global cooperation initiatives to secure greater financial support and transfer of technologies, that can build national and local level capacities in disaster mitigation and risk management in the country,” he concluded.
The ECOWAS Commission to the Gambia Vabah Kazakh Gayflou, commended the efforts of Government and NDMA, for operationalizing the ECOWAS policy on DRR; that because any national policy which is at variance with international standards, can have serious implications for the conduct and realization of disaster management goals and strategies.

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