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General News Wed, 13 Oct 2004

We need proactive measures to address hazards of disasters

Accra, Oct. 13, GNA - Mr. Thomas Broni, Deputy Interior Minister, on Wednesday called for proactive and preventive measures to address the hazards associated with the various disasters, saying Ghanaians lack adequate education and training on what to do in the eventuality of natural disasters, particularly earthquakes.

He noted that planning schemes did not take into consideration the possible occurrence of earthquakes, hence buildings were not specifically designed to be resilient to earthquakes.

"We cannot allow this state of affairs to continue," he told a press conference organized by the Ministry in Accra to mark the World Disaster Reduction Day (WDRD).

"We need to be proactive and adopt preventive measures to address the hazards associated with the various disasters," he added.

Mr Broni said if the Ghanaians adopted certain ways of life and developmental practices, especially with respect to building and construction, these could reduce vulnerability and risk, thus lessening the impact on human life and property when disasters occurred.

The United Nations, through its International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) instituted the WDRD to create disaster awareness to avert preventable disasters and mitigate the effects of those that are not preventable, as well as build capacity for pro-action in disaster management in all UN member countries.

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This year's event is under the theme: "Learning from Yesterday's Disaster for Tomorrow's Hazards". The theme aims at informing and educating the general public, especially the communities living at the risk of disasters of the various hazards, and to learn from previous disasters.

Mr. Broni said a number of high-rise buildings had been constructed without reference to the impact of earthquakes on them.

He said lack of respect for planning and building regulations had been "thrown out of the window" thus aiding flooding of various areas. Mr. Broni noted that a critical aspect of disaster management was the need for everyone to be law abiding and conform strictly to building and construction codes, rules and regulations that must be comprehensive enough to address the concerns relating to disaster and their management.

He said, it was important that all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies ensured that they fully implemented these regulations without favour, or enact one if the laws did not exist.

Mr Broni noted that learning to live with the risk that disaster posed to communities was one of the ways through which people and property could be protected from the negative impacts of natural and man-made disasters.

He said through education it was possible to sensitise Ghanaians on the implications of disasters and the adoption of pro-active stance in social and economic ventures to reduce risk and vulnerability.

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"We must educate our compatriots about what to do before, during and after a disaster. This is what we mean by disaster preparedness."

Mr Broni said it was incumbent on all individuals, families, governmental and other institutions, particularly the banks, insurance companies, religious bodies, bilateral and multilateral concerns to assist the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to prevent disasters and mitigate their impact when they occurred.

A month-long programme of activities has been drawn to mark the celebration of the Day.

NADMO on Tuesday organized a float through the principal streets of Accra as part of activities marking the day to create awareness on earthquake safety measures and domestic as well as industrial fire prevention.

Source: GNA