Mr Prosper Bani, the Minister of the Interior, said the responsibility to reduce disaster risks does not rest with disaster managers alone but must be a concern for all.
He said disaster management was a holistic agenda that involved every facet of government, every facet of society, and every facet of the professional, religious and private sector.
“Indeed, the level of impact of disaster on our lives, development and the environment depends on the choices we make.
“The decisions and actions we take either make us more vulnerable or resilient to disasters. Therefore, in order to reduce disaster risk, we have no choice than to make the right choices as a nation, as a community, family and as individuals.
“Our national policies, economic and financial systems, infrastructural development, our homes and other physical constructions; our agricultural and health practices and even the kind of education we give to our children must be guided by Disaster Risk Reduction,” he added.
Mr Bani said these in a speech read on his behalf at the 27th International Day for Disaster Reduction in Accra on the theme: “Live to Tell”, Reducing Global Disaster Mortality.”
It was organised by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme for stakeholders in disaster management.
The United Nations General Assembly designated October 13 every year as the International Day for Disaster reduction, to create global awareness and to rally efforts to build a more disaster-resilient global society.
The Minister said as Ghana joins the global community to celebrate this important day, “our focus as nation cannot deviate from the global campaign to highlight the essential contribution of disaster risk reduction; and the effective implementation of the Sendai Framework as part of the 2030 Agenda towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Mr Bani said the need to build resilience and reduce the vulnerability of the people had become more crucial than ever.
“We have no choice than to develop and enhance the capacities of individuals, organisations and communities to effectively manage their risks.”
He said vulnerability to disasters could only be minimised through effective Disaster Risk Reduction and commended the efforts and achievements of the NADMO in the national campaign to reduce the risk of the communities to the many hazards and disasters that confront the nation.
“NADMO in collaboration other stakeholders has made tremendous strides in reducing the risk to disasters and improving the resilience of vulnerable communities around the country…Government will continue to support this drive by incorporating Disaster Risk Reduction in policy and development planning at all levels of governance,” he added.
Brigadier General Francis Vib-Sanziri, the National Coordinator of NADMO, said marking the day drove home the significance of paying premium to disaster management and subsequently addressing other related issues such as land use, unplanned urbanisation, poor risk governance, climate change and poverty.
He said the theme could not have been more appropriate, especially considering the nation’s experience in the past year.
“On June 3, 2015, Ghana was hit by one of the deadliest disasters ever recorded in its history; the ‘twin disaster’ which claimed over 100 lives. In telling our story, we say ‘Never again’ should this calamity ever befall us.
“No form of extensive recovery programme can bring back the lives of the able-bodied men and women who lost their lives in the process. How we wish they have lived to tell their story today, “ he added.
Brig Gene Vib-Sanziri, said following what might be described as Ghana’s costliest disaster, NADMO had been instrumental in the process to ensure the desilting and dredging of most of the major drains in Accra.
He said they have also, together with Hoskonin and the UNDP developed a Flash Flood Application, which aimed at giving prior notice to rainfall patterns in Accra, hence better climate risk and early warning signals.
“In addition, NADMO has commissioned an ultramodern Emergency Operating Centre to enhance effective and efficient coordination among regions and districts in times of disasters,” he said and thanked partners for putting things together to make the day a reality.
Ms Christine Evans-Clock, United Nations Resident Coordinator, reading the UN Secretary-General speech, urged the world to move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention and build resilience by reducing loss of life.
“We can replace material possessions, but we cannot replace people…Let us move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention and build resilience by reducing loss of life,” she added.
She said 73 countries, including Ghana have officially ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and commended the Government of Ghana its commitment and leadership.