UN helps beef up disaster preparedness across Mozambique
For three years INGC, a government institution responsible for coordinating natural disaster response, has conducted training exercises to raise awareness, among ordinary Mozambicans, of aware of what to do in case a flood or a cyclone strikes.
Thanks to these exercises and other initiatives, Mozambique has become a regional leader in disaster preparedness. UNDP’s role has been to strengthen the preparedness and response capacities of INGC, working in partnership with other UN agencies under the ‘delivering as one’ framework.
In the latest exercise, the institute mobilized INGC personnel, civil protection units, Red Cross volunteers, government focal points and others in a drill involving vulnerable communities from 29 districts and 9 provinces across the country.
Supported by several UN institutions, this latest simulation exercise took place on 26th November 2009. It enacted two disaster scenarios, one that trained people on cyclone response in the North of the Country, and the other simulating a flood situation in the South.
Warnings received from the National Meteorological Institute were communicated to regional emergency operations centres which relayed the information to districts and provinces.
In the final and most important link in the communication chain, the communities were then alerted to the situation through local risk management committees composed of volunteers trained by INGC.
These committees are responsible for monitoring radio communications for situation updates, organizing evacuations, coordinating responses with emergency operations centers at the district level, and raising awareness among communities.
The country has made considerable progress since the first simulation exercise of 2007. Within communities, “local risk management committees” responded actively, notifying the population with color-coded flags, whistles and loudspeakers.
Evacuation procedures ran smoothly and temporary shelters were established. In one of the areas, porridge was even made available for the youngest evacuees.
Three ministers and other community and district officials attended one of the exercises, visiting provincial and regional emergency operations centres.
In addition to the many participants directly involved, observers, including members of the UN’s humanitarian institutions in Mozambique and other international observers came to oversee the exercise.
They provided feedback to INGC and allowed international observers from SADC and other countries in the region, including Malawi, Madagascar, Comoros São Tome and Angola, to view a preparedness drill which encouraged them to strengthen disaster preparedness in their own countries.
Some weaknesses were observed and will be addressed, especially in the availability of radio communications equipment, response plans and standard operating procedures. While the lack of a surprise element was highlighted as an inconclusive test of response capacity and speed, initial feedback from the observers reveals that there was a strong sense of political commitment and community participation.
Mozambique is one of the countries where the UN has been “Delivering as One”, piloting an important reform effort by adopting one plan to become more efficient and coherent.
For more information, please contact Eeva Parviainen
Tel. +258 21 481 409