Uganda gets a National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre for Disaster preparedness

Oct 13, 2014

Alfred Ongom explains (right) explains to the Vice President, Hon. Edward Ssekandi (left with red tie) how the NECOC operations room operates. The NECOC is located in the Office of the Prime Minister

KAMPALA - Uganda has launched a National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre (NECOC) to provide timely and early warning information on disasters, climate modelling and forecasting, and also help coordinate emergency responses.

The 24-hour hub which was launched by His Excellency Edward Ssekandi, the Vice President of Uganda, features state of the art equipment, and paves the way for gathering, and sharing critical early warning information within relevant government ministries and to the public, particularly those communities likely to be affected by disasters.

Over the years, disasters in Uganda have been occurring with increasing frequency and intensity such as the recent landslides in the East, flooding in the west and Teso sub-region, and drought in the northeast, among others. All these disasters have led to loss of lives, property and livelihoods.

“The NECOC is part of our commitment as Government to protect our people from such disasters. Getting and disseminating information on any coming disasters in time to help prevent loss of lives and property, and additionally save on funds that can otherwise be used to develop these communities,” Hon. Ssekandi said.

Hon. Hilary Onek, the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees said the centre would help the Government to move from merely estimating information related to suspected likelihoods of disaster to actual and scientifically proven information on such looming threats. He added that the centre would be helpful in disseminating weather forecasts which are important for an agricultural focused economy like Uganda’s.

Speaking at the event, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in Uganda, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, lauded the government for launching the centre on the International Day for Disaster Reduction.

“This shows Government’s commitment in ensuring that it’s able to better manage disaster and protect the Ugandan people,” she said.  

She added that the 2008 Human Development Report stated that every dollar spent on risk reduction saves between $5 and $10 in economic losses from disasters, this Centre is therefore a step towards protecting communities and people from disasters before they happen and also saving the country from the economic losses that would occur as a result of these disasters.

Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie reiterated the UN's commitment to supporting the Government of Uganda to empowering communities to be able to withstand, adapt, recover, and transform from disasters and preserve their integrity and dignity.

The UN’s support to the establishment of the NECOC was guided by its principle of Delivering As One which pooled resources and expertise to support the government to set up the NECOC.  Drawing on its experience in setting up similar facilities in other countries such as Ethiopia, the United Nations Development Programme provided the technical and financial support required for the establishment and operationalization of the centre, including the equipment and installation of the modelling and communication systems. On its part, World Food Programme provided the equipment which will enable satellite data to be available in real-time, as well as the linking of data from its vulnerability assessment and monitoring to feed into the National Early Warning System hosted in the NECOC.  UNICEF on the other hand, has placed an interface of its U-Report mobile phone-based SMS system to intergrate real-time on-site data gathering from an army of NECOC volunteers within communities.  

The Uganda NECOC is the third such centre in Africa with the other two located in Ethiopia and South Africa.

For more information, please contact:

Jose. Niel. C. Bong. Manzano, Disaster Risk Management Advisor, UNDP-Uganda and Office of the Prime Minister Government of Uganda Tel: +256 417 112100 Cellphone: 0716005175. Email: jose.manzano@undp.org

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