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‘Ghana has no disaster risk plan’

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante
Dr Grace Bediako (left), the acting Director-General, National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), making a statement at the meeting. Picture: EDNA ADU-SERWAA
Dr Grace Bediako (left), the acting Director-General, National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), making a statement at the meeting. Picture: EDNA ADU-SERWAA

Should a disaster occur in Ghana, there is no plan in place that will inform how the various stakeholders in disaster management will coordinate their efforts at reducing the risks that will be associated with such a mishap.

This is because a 15-member committee put together four years ago to see to the development of a national Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) plan has still not completed its work.

Checks by the Daily Graphic revealed that the committee, which was put together in 2015 after Ghana had signed onto an international framework that mandated it to come up with a plan, had only been able to meet twice since it was constituted.

Meanwhile, the country is expected to produce a report that will feed into the first Sendai Framework Progress Report which will be published in July 2019, as UN member states are expected to provide an update on the status of implementation of their DRR plans.

Countries, including Ghana, which are conducting voluntary national reviews (VNR) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2019 are expected to provide an update on DRR efforts at both national and sub-national levels.

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The unpreparedness of the country to effectively reduce the risks associated with any disaster that strikes came to light yesterday at a stakeholders’ consultative meeting on DRR organised by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).

Steps taken

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Addressing participants, the acting Director of the NDPC, Dr Grace Bediako, said Ghana had taken the first step towards realising the ideals of the framework by integrating both DRR and the building of resilience into policies, plans, programmes and budgets at all levels.

“Disaster risk management is one of the focus areas of the government’s coordinated programmes of economic and social development, as well as the National Medium-term Development Policy Framework, 2018- 2021.

Translating the plans into effective actions at national and sub-national levels is the critical next step,” she said.

Dr Bediako said the meeting presented stakeholders with an opportunity to collectively take stock of DRR actions in Ghana, identify successes achieved, emerging issues and challenges and the support required to accelerate the progress towards achieving the DRR target, adding that the outcome of the meeting would form part of Ghana’s VNR on the SDGs and also contribute to shaping the actions towards prevention, preparedness and response to disasters.

“There are 25 targets related to DRR in 10 of the 17 SDGs, firmly establishing the role of DRR as a core development strategy.

As a signatory to the framework, Ghana is committed to effectively working towards disaster risk reduction and building resilience to disasters.

Moreover, we must report on the progress towards achieving the seven global targets of the framework,” she stated.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Eric Nana Agyeman-Prempeh, said: “As disaster risk ambassadors, it behoves us to recommit our efforts to reduce disasters to the barest minimum, if not completely.

And it is the task of NADMO to lead the coordination of the implementation of the Sendai Framework. This is a serious duty NADMO cannot bear alone.”

Meeting

The consultative meeting was attended by representatives from metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), NADMO, the security services, civil society organisations (CSOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), professional bodies such as the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE), the Ghana Institute of Planners and the NDPC.

The participants cited ineffective coordination among stakeholders, the lack of a comprehensive national DRR policy, unreliable political commitments, high levels of political interference, among others, as issues militating against Ghana’s DRR plan.

They also mentioned inadequate and inaccurate DRR data, inadequate resources for DRR, a non-functional Sendai Framework Committee, the lack of a common platform for information sharing, the untimely response to disasters, inadequate early warning systems and inadequate involvement of communities in DRR planning.

Recommendations

The stakeholders recommended the assessment of institutional capacities and tasked NADMO to send an initial assessment report to all stakeholders by next week, the submission of a DRR plan by the NDPC and all stakeholders, the strengthening of the Sendai Framework Committee at NADMO as soon as possible and the creation of a common platform for stakeholders at all levels by NADMO.

The Sendai Framework

The Sendai Framework for DRR will apply to the risk of small and large-scale, frequent and infrequent, sudden and slow-onset disasters caused by natural or man-made hazards, as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.

It aims to guide the multi-hazard management of disaster risk in development at all levels, as well as within and across all sectors, and offers countries the opportunity to adopt a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction and also complete the assessment and review of the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, which is the predecessor to the Sendai Framework.