Empowering communities to manage risk is key for disaster reduction

Oct 16, 2017

Ms. Rosa Malango, United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in Uganda, waters a tree she planted at Kazinga Primary School in Kyegegwa District to commemorate International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) 2017. Looking is Hon. David Karubanga, the Minister of State for Public Service and other officials. (Photo credit: UNDP Uganda 2017)

KYEGEGWA – Uganda joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) on 13 October with a call from the United Nations Resident Coordinator to strengthen the ability of communities to manage disaster risks.

She made the call during celebrations to mark the day at Kazinga Primary School in Kyegegwa District.

The day whose theme was ‘Home Safe Home: reducing exposure, reducing displacement’ emphasised the need to protect communities.

“Humanity has one home, planet earth and every nation must contribute to protecting it and strengthening the ability of its communities to manage the impact of disasters when they strike,” Ms. Malango said.   

She also recognised nationally-led efforts to strengthen Uganda’s disaster preparedness and management capacities citing among others, the establishment of the National Emergency Coordination and Operations Centre (NECOC).

The Centre, based at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and set up with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Uganda, provides early warning information on hazards, disasters, climate modelling and forecasting, and also serves as the strategic space to coordinate a whole-of-government effort in response to emergency and supporting risk-informed development.

“According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, between 2008 and 2016 an average of 12,000 Ugandans was displaced each year by natural disasters. NECOC therefore presents a timely and impressive crisis management and early warning intervention to monitor risks and share information,” Ms. Malango said.

She added that currently UNDP is supporting the Office of the Prime Minister to develop a national risk atlas. This comprehensive risk atlas will, for the first time in Uganda’s history, provide a national-level census of hazards risks as well as an evidence base for risk-informed decisions making and investments.

Agreeing with her, Hon. David Karubanga, the Minister of State for Public Service said; “The Government stands and will continue to stand in solidarity with all persons affected by disasters and its associated shocks, this is manifested and translated into existing strong public policies, strategic annual work plans and resource allocations, to take forward implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction Agenda.”

Uganda continues to be adversely affected by multiple hazards such as drought, floods, landslides, earthquakes, and lightening. Since 2007 to date, the above natural and human-induced disasters, have affected over 3.6 million people, equivalent to the combined total population of greater Kampala.

Ms. Christine Kintu Guwatudde, the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister also called for  stronger and sound land-use planning, better early warning systems, environmental management and evacuation plans and, above all, education to boost awareness creation.

No community is immune from the threat of disasters, but mountain communities are particularly vulnerable,” she said, adding that making communities and individuals aware of their risk to both natural and human induced hazards can reduce their vulnerability.

The International Day of Disaster Reduction was designated by the UN General Assembly in 1989 as a way to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. That includes disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.The day is also intended to celebrate how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters.

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