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General News Sun, 20 Jul 2008

Schools need to be prepared before Disaster strikes - AAIG

Bolgatanga, July 20, GNA- A research conducted by Charles Bamfo and Ebenezer Addo Team Consult based in Accra, "on effects of flood disasters" in the three northern regions has identified that most institutions, especially schools in the area do not include disaster management issues in their medium term development planning and this was seriously affecting development whenever disaster strikes. It recommended the mainstreaming of disaster management issues into District Medium Term Development Planning (DMTDP) and Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS).

The Research, commissioned and funded by Action Aid International Ghana (AAIG) was aimed at studying how resilient schools in the area were in the wake of the flood disaster that affected the Regions in August/September 2007.

The research was to gather information on disaster and risk reduction, to be used in programme planning, monitoring and evaluation in government institutions, particularly the education sectors in the Regions so as to manage and avert disaster.

It explained that, with the mainstreaming of disaster management issues into the DMTDP and GPRS, it would be easier to confront disaster issues when they occurred instead of waiting for them to strike before looking for solutions. It also recommended the intensification of monitoring by relevant stakeholders and institutions to enable them detect early warning signals so as to address the situation before it got out of hand.

The research stated the need for enacting effective legislations and enforcing them at the local level and also strengthening inter agency collaboration and linkages such as schools and National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO).

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It stressed the need to set up disaster management fund at the District Assembly level to make funds available to victims and communities to help repair damages caused by disasters. The Research stated the need for integrating disaster management skills into the primary school curriculum and involve school children in disaster risk reduction initiatives including projects such as tree planting, water harvesting, drip irrigation and "roles playing" in disaster response.

Deepening the awareness and continuous sensitization of disaster management issues through the media was also advocated. Mrs. Christina Amarchey, Programme Manager in- charge of Upper East Region AAIG branch said her outfit was implementing the Disaster Risk Reduction through schools project with six other countries. The goal of the project, she noted was to reduce people's vulnerability to disasters by contributing towards the implementation of the Hyogo Frame for Action which commenced in 2005 and would end in 2015.

She said the Hyogo project sought to make schools in high risk areas safer, enabling them to act as centre of awareness and action on local hazards and risk reduction. Mrs. Amarchey indicated that the 2007 flood disaster that hit the three Northern regions caused a major disaster where over 20,000 school children lost their school buildings and that affected their academic work.

She explained that AAIG, in line with its right based approach to development saw it as very urgent to institute the Disaster Risk Management Project in Schools to avert disaster in the near future. The Programme Manager urged all stakeholders at the functions including District Chief Executives, Planners, Presiding Members and Assembly members, NADMO officials, Head of institutions, Chiefs, Opinion leaders, among others to factor in the recommendations of the research findings into their Medium-Term Development Planning, especially the District Assemblies and the Ghana Education Service.

Source: GNA
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