By Omar Bah
The executive director of the National Disaster Management Agency has said that the agency, which was formed to prevent disasters and natural mishaps, was itself not spared by former President Jammeh who used the body as a political tool.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day workshop called to map out a framework for disaster management coordination in The Gambia, Sana Dahaba revealed that in 2012, the agency was abruptly transferred under the Office of the President, which resulted in its undesirable performance.
“There was frequent and excessive bureaucracy and red tape, limited mandates and poor coordination capacities in the institution,” he said, adding that Jammeh was hardly available for consultations when it was required sometimes urgently.
“Meetings of the governing council were few and far between, decision-making was slow and above all, available resources were inadequate for mitigation and response planning, implementation and monitoring,” he observed.
Dahaba revealed that despite the creation of the national platform for disaster risk reduction in 2011 as a multi-stakeholder coordination mechanism to support NDMA with information sharing and institutional capacities, the disaster management system of the country is still experiencing serious challenges.
“These challenges outlined above reduced the influence of the National Disaster Management Agency significantly,” he stressed.
Dahaba said if this situation must change in New Gambia, it is imperative to reverse the trend and he hopes that the high level consultative forum and training workshop will discuss the issues and recommend for improvements in the coordination framework and strategies of the NDMA.”
Meanwhile, the Vice President and Minister for Women’s Affairs in a statement read on his behalf by his PS, Bintou Gassama said his office is aware that coordination of disaster management is the most challenging issue facing the NDMA.
The VP said this is partly because of the transfer of the institution from one sector to the other at some point during the former regime.
This, he added, crippled communication and its strategic management, brought in a conflict of interest and competition over its mandates, among other factors. We will work as a government to change this situation”.
The ECOWAS Ambassador to The Gambia, Vabah Gayflor said the t poor and the most vulnerable, including women and girls, continues to suffer disproportionately in disasters, saying it is prudent for all stakeholders to put more effort into tackling disaster risks to create a safer and more sustainable region for all.
“There is the urgent need to focus on reducing human suffering and the number of people affected,” she said.