By Alfred Fornah
Disaster management and humanitarian actors in Sierra Leone have benefitted from a weeklong training, from the 4th to the 8th July 2022, that was supported by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in partnership with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Regional Office in Dakar.
Focus of the training was to provide knowledge and tools to the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) to put it at a vantage position in order to cascade Emergency Preparedness and Response training at the sub-national level which will target Governmental and Non-Governmental humanitarian actors on the ground, including those in the districts.
In a statement during the opening session, the United Nations Resident Coordinator (RC) in Sierra Leone, Babatunde Ahonsi, highlighted the importance of the training, which, according to him, “provides advanced skills and tools in Emergency Preparedness and Response, including Multi-Indicator Rapid Assessment (MIRA), coordination mechanisms, information management, humanitarian funding, Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP), PSEA, gender and protection, disability inclusion, early warning and DRR, the link between humanitarian action and development, and awareness on civil and military coordination”.
According to the Regional Coordinator, in February 2022, the UNCT tasked the UN Inter-Agency Emergency Preparedness and Response group to consult with NDMA on their additional need for support from the UN and it was agreed to conduct comprehensive training on disaster management and coordination addressed to all humanitarian stakeholders in the country.He expressed delight to see the presence of national humanitarian actors for a full five-day residential training.
The Deputy Director-General of NDMA, John Vandi Rogers, on his part explained the rationale behind the establishment of the NDMA, further commending UN Sierra Leone for its tremendous support towards disaster management in the country.
“Since the establishment of the NDMA in 2020, the positive impact of the Agency has been felt nationwide through its various mandated activities via Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, Relief and Response and Communications”, he disclosed.
“On behalf of the Government, I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to the UN Country Team and officials from OCHA who are here to deliver the training. This is the first time we are having a national training of this type characterized across the length and breadth of the country,” Rogers added.
The training attracted more than 40 participants from Government institutions and local and International Non-Governmental Organizations.
Isatu Sesay, who represented Handicap International, said that the knowledge gained in the training will be integrated into their disaster management programming to further strengthen the capacity of local community stakeholders in disaster response.
The training ended with a simulation exercise carried out at Lakka Coastal Community to evaluate the real-time preparedness and readiness of humanitarian actors to deliver and support response efforts in case of an emergency.