With Muhammed Sailu Bah
National Disaster Management Agency –Coordinator for Banjul Welcome to another edition of know your public institutions, a column which seeks to create awareness on the nature and work of public institutions in the Gambia. This edition is a continuation of an exclusive interview with the National Disaster Management Agency Coordinator for Banjul Hudul E.N. Colley, on how to create awareness on Disaster prevention as part of their roles and responsibilities.Foroyaa: Do you have any contingencies in place, in the fight against disaster, and where you able to Map out all hazards?
Banjul Disaster Coordinator: what happen is sometimes back last year there was this project supported through an MOU between the National Disaster Management Agency and the WFP. The project was for the Municipalities and some of the Regions to have a contingency plan for disaster risk reduction.
We have a national contingency Plan that is in place and this project supported the City to develop its contingency plan. During the development plan it was so participatory, that the grassroots, the community are the people who were involved. It may be difficult to get every Banjulian in, but Banjulians have their representatives in that development process.
During the development process, Banjulians were able to come up with Hazards, these hazards were Ranked, and among the Hazards rank as the first is Flash Flood, Domestic Out break, Diseases Outbreak, Marine Accident among many.
Recognizing these as hazards, we thought it very necessary, that what we do to prevent these hazards having negative impact on the people of Banjul that is why we are working closely with the community this year in holding meetings.
We drew our programs, and plans for implementation base on the hazards that were identified. In part of the program developed in 2015, is to ensure that, we open the drainage outlets, and the people to be taking part in this excursive; the National Disaster Management Agency, the Banjul City Council, and the People of Banjul. Because it is the people that lives in the communities of Banjul, the Council is here for the people and the NDMA is just to support in capacity.
The council is taking charge of the fuel for the Machine, give transport fare to the operators for them to be going back home after work, Honorarium to the operators, so you cannot just imagine how much the council is putting in. If you don’t tell people they wouldn’t know but it is very important for people to be aware of this.
The city council always make a follow up in the exercises as well as monitor it, to see if the work is going on as expected and also look at the constraints. This shows how committed the council is in disaster risk reduction.
As at now we are working very hard with the people in opening the drainage outlets in Banjul. I will advocate for people to be cleaning the drainages around their compounds for water to easily flow in it.
Foroyaa: What is the Disaster Management doing on people living in areas that are threats to their Lives, e.g. places that are prone to flooding and disaster?
Banjul Disaster Coordinator: As I said earlier on, we work with partners as an agency responsible to coordinate all disaster related issues in the country. Anything related to environment, there is an institution responsible for that, if there is something related to settlement there is an institution responsible for that, the NDMA has recognize that, their may be people living in certain areas that are not suitable for human settlement, because may be the environment they are living is not healthy, is prone to disaster , we will work closely with the department responsible to ensure that nationally, we have a strategic in place that can help us get free from those issues.
This is a collective issue; no one institution can move this country. Institutions should not compete but should be collaborative to ensure that we move Gambia to a very respectful or high position.
The contingency plan is about a four year plan which is subjected to a review for hazards can change on how you respond to a particular hazard. For example if you response positively on flood, may be in future, it will never be seen as a hazard, because then we will be very much prepared to ensure that it flows out easily. If we work on Domestic fire Outbreak, because these are fires coming from our houses is not just coming in the sky like that.
It is the people’s attitude towards things that causes these hazards and it is affecting us. Just imagine if you have drainage system in your home and you allow it to be filled with rubbish or to be a dumpsite and clot without taking any action it might cause flooding and there will be disaster.
People need to be responsible and pro active towards, managing their own environment to avoid disaster.
Foroyaa: Concerning about the rise of sea level in Banjul, which can make the city to be swallowed by water, as an agency what are you doing towards protecting this looming menace?
Banjul Disaster Coordinator: as I told you earlier, the NDMA is not a 100% fully capcitised institution and it is given the mandate on the Act, to coordinate. Coordination here means, you may have different stakeholders, different actors, but those actors should work towards meeting one common goal, that is why coordination has to be in place.
Yes it has it effects, positive and negative effects of coordination, but for The Gambia we are blessed, institutions are complying, institutions are recognizing their mandates and they are really in for partnership. When it comes to sea level rise it is above me.
There are institutions responsible for that, I can remember NEA working closely with NDMA. Sea is part of the environment, I can also remember Ministries responsible for fisheries and water resources working with NDMA and I am sure they are putting so much recognition when it comes to rising up of the sea level.
Sea level rise will not come like that easily, but it will as a result of climate change. The effect of climate change is posing so many threats to the environment, but what should we do to adapt to the effects of climate change. So these are the issues on the table of institutions and government is not sleeping on it. They are working very hard with agencies that have the knowledge and the expertise to ensure that when this thing strikes it will not have much serious impact on the Gambia. It is a matter of collaboration, partnership and synchronizing our effort.
Next Edition is Functions of the NDMA
With Muhammed Sailu Bah