News / Africa

Aid Agencies: West Africa Needs Better Disaster Preparedness

West Africa Needs Better Disaster Preparedness

People queue to pass through a make-shift bridge after an heavy flood swept away a connecting bridge in Nigeria's south-west city of Ibadan,  August 30, 2011.
People queue to pass through a make-shift bridge after an heavy flood swept away a connecting bridge in Nigeria's south-west city of Ibadan, August 30, 2011.

Aid agencies say governments in West Africa should be doing a better job preparing for natural disasters by involving more young people and improving the flow of information. 

Aid agencies say natural disasters such as drought, flooding, and chronic food insecurity are especially punishing for young people in West Africa.  With more than half the region's population under the age of 18, relief officials say governments need to start doing a better job preparing for those disasters.

UNICEF chief of emergency operations for West and Central Africa Grant Leaity says not all preparations are costly.

"There is a lot of preparedness that can be done, which does not actually cost money," said Leaity.  "It is more about getting organized.  So having a clearly established plan of in the event of, in fact we know these risks are going to come, so when it comes this is now everybody's role.  This is who is going to a lead on that.  This is what we are going to do in the schools, and that is what we are going to do in the health centers.  And this is not happening enough, unfortunately, in the region.”

One of Africa's biggest obstacles is a lack of reliable, timely information.

"The first thing that we have to do is disseminate good information in good time,” said Mie Takaki, Senegal country director for Plan International. "Information can prepare, react, and manage the situation.  But when the information is hidden or exaggerated or not disseminated on time, then that is when the disaster happens, especially for these cyclical things.”

Takaki says better information helps aid agencies and local governments improve assistance for those most affected by natural disaster.

"How much water should we expect this year?  And how much preparation should I do?  And how should I prepare my health post?  How should I prepare little ones when they go to school without water?” she said.

Takaki says Plan International is helping neighborhood youth groups in a door-to-door campaign to disinfect public places and demonstrate better hygiene in the fight against cholera.

"We knew the school does not have enough water, but we can not stop children from going to school just because there is a risk of cholera.  Right?  So then how do we prepare?  That becomes the question.  Once we ask the right question in the right timing then everybody can unite and prepare and prevent,” said Takaki.

UNICEF's Grant Leaity says disaster risk reduction is a missing piece between long-term development agencies and emergency relief groups who put out humanitarian “fires”.

"For example, think about how could we put communities out of risk or at less risk by building raised schools or health centers or actually even suggesting that people move from one location, which is just inherently at risk and it is going to be increasing so," he said. "These are not things that those firefighters are good at doing.  That is not their skill set.”

By involving more young people in disaster preparedness, aid agencies say the impact of famine and epidemics in West Africa can be eased, lowering the loss of life and property damage that most often affect the poorest households.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Transferred to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid