Disaster Reduction in Ghana

As efforts are being made to reduce disaster across the world, Ghana on the other hand continues to record human induced natural disasters. For instance the Burkina Faso Bagre Dam disaster in the Northern, Upper East and West Regions, the Kumasi church fire and the Bosomtwe District Soil erosion disaster caused by structural vulnerability of residential settlements were some of the human induced happenings. One can also recall the contaminated tilapia disaster in the Eastern Region precisely Asutsuare area of the Volta Lake and the gas explosion at Krofrom in the Tafo Municipality of the Ashanti Region which claimed some lives. Lack of a Legislative Instrument for NADMO to enforce building permit laws is a major barrier to the implementation of the second UN General Assembly International Instruments on Disaster management, known as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The worldwide establishment of disaster and emergency management organisations was triggered by the 1989 UN declaration which mandates every Country to establish a permanent Disaster Management Organisation.
Ghana as UN Member State through Parliament on 11th September, 1996 established the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to manage disasters and related emergencies. Two years ago, Parliament identified lack of public compliance and weak stakeholders cooperation among others and repositioned the organisation by passing into law the NADMO ACT 927. The House however failed to enact the required Legislative Instrument that will empower NADMO Directors to be permanent signatories to Building Permit approval process.  Bye-Laws passed by Members of the various District Assemblies are not enough for disaster prevention in the country, hence the need for Parliament  to prioritize and speed up the process for  the enactment of the crucial legislative instrument submitted for the August House consideration.  In the past, Ghana was restricted to reactive approach to disaster management by law instead of the current proactive strategy that established disaster prevention and management department in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, MMDAs. The good news is that every Member of Parliament doubles as member to the District Disaster Management Committee in their various Constituencies. Same applies to every Assembly Member in the context of disaster affected areas. By default MPs and Assembly Members are members of the procurement committee of the Disaster Management Fund at the local level. To this end it is important for the MPs to help pass the Instrument to empower NADMO to do more to prevent Disasters. The behavioural factor in disaster management process can be addressed if Parliamentarians enact the appropriate Legislative Instruments in making NADMO Directors signatories to the approval of building permits. This is crucial and must be done as soon as practicable to help prevent building on water ways and unauthorized locations so as to end human induced disasters.


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