A total of 100 Disaster Risk Reduction Volunteers [DRRVs] from five selected communities across the Bongo District in the Upper East Region, have been trained on Community Disasters and Preparedness Response. The training was organised by the Ghana Red Cross Society [GRCS] with support from the Swiss Red Cross.
The beneficiary communities which presented 20 volunteers each for the two-day training held at different locations in the district, included Aniakunkua, Akebga, Atonobugro, Asabre and Azonsedaana. The volunteers included the youth, opinion leaders like assembly men and women’s leaders, head-teachers of schools, traditional leaders and pastors among others to be headed by a local think-tank selected from their midst who will provide leadership and direction during disasters.
Speaking at one of the training sessions in the Akunka community, Upper East Regional Manager of the GRCS, Mr. Joseph Abarike disclosed that the training came on the background of a Vulnerability Capacity Assessment that was carried out in 2004 by his outfit in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Organisation [NADMO] in four selected districts of the region. That assessment he disclosed, identified some communities in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality, the Bongo, Nabdam and Binduri districts as vulnerable and disaster-prone.
He said the GRCS thereafter, developed a training scheme targeted at recruiting, training and equipping local community volunteers in a way that was in tandem with the mandate and objectives of NADMO. This he noted, will enable these disaster-prone communities to become resilient and prepared to mitigate disasters as well as cope with them, when they do occur. He observed that many lives and property would be saved if communities were adequately trained on disasters such that, they would become ‘first responders’ whilst waiting for external support.
The DRRVs are expected to undertake regular community education exercises on disaster issues, climate change adaption and also teach community members basic disaster response techniques. Meanwhile, they will take charge of the frontline in times of fighting disasters in their communities.
Mr. Abarike disclosed that the training had important objectives such as reducing community vulnerabilities to disaster events to save lives and property, strengthening community capacities to resist disasters, positioning communities to prevent and prepare for disasters and helping communities to respond effectively to disaster events or any emergency situations. The training would also guarantee quick recovery from disaster events and build resilient communities by developing and promoting best disaster management practices.
According to him, some critical stakeholder-institutions including the Ghana Health Service, the Forestry Commission and the Ghana National Fire Service have been brought onboard the training and implementation since their core mandate and activities have a direct correlation with DRR activities.
He revealed that his outfit had already undertaken similar trainings for other vulnerable communities in the Binduri and Nabdam districts of the Upper East Region while the Kassena-Nankana Municipality will be next after Bongo. At the end of the training, 500 Acacia tree-seedlings will be distributed among the DRRVs with each of them receiving five pieces for growing to serve as wind-breaks. They will also receive life jackets, aprons, branded t-shirts and fire-fighting tools such as extinguishers and bush-fire control implements including fire-beaters to aid their work.
According to Mr. Abarike, experience had shown that donors and government’s response for relief support during disasters doesn’t usually come in good time, as a result, the attention of stakeholders has now been shifted to Disaster Risk Reduction. He commended the Swiss Red Cross saying it has been of tremendous support to the works of the GRCS through the decades. He said the Organisation had sponsored four major programmes in Upper East so far including maternal and child health, DRR, a WASH programme and a tree-planting intervention.
He disclosed that aside interventions like the DRR and Climate Change Adaption, the Ghana Red Cross Society also undertakes periodic national blood donation services, carries out social services, first aid services and community health services among others.
Bongo District NADMO Director, Mr. Clement Akongo who also administered some lessons to the volunteers on how to manage community-level disasters, stated that NADMO had stationed Zonal Coordinators who have been working in the communities and that, they will supervise and guide volunteers to do an excellent job.
Source: Peter Atogewe Wedam (ISD)