Mr Isaias Barreto da Rosa, the Commissioner, Telecommunications and Information Technology, ECOWAS, expressed gratitude to KAIPTC and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) for their relentless support in the organisation of training programmes for the sub-region under the West Africa Disaster Preparedness Initiative (WADPI).
He said the WADPI initiative was strategic, given its timing; as it came at a time when the region was recovering from the recent devastating Ebola outbreak.
“Given the robust approach to prevention and management of emergencies, we are happy to say that the programme has had tremendous success; but we must be mindful of the resurgence of the virus in Guinea,” Mr Barreto da Rosa said in Accra at the closing ceremony of a three-week training programme under WADPI for 120 participants from Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The WADPI training which is part of the efforts to combat disaster outbreaks in the sub-region, was organised from July 13 to November 30 2015 without the two countries due to the ravaging Ebola pandemic.
Since its launch, the programme has so far trained over 1,300 ECOWAS States citizens from 14 countries including Cameroun; and more than 30 staff from the ECOWAS Commission in disaster management and rapid response.
It is being held under the auspices of the ECOWAS, in collaboration with the KAIPTC, the NADMO, the Centre for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine, the United States Air Forces Africa, and sponsored by the US Africa Command (USAFRICOM), and Operation United Assistance Transition Disaster Preparedness Project.
The main objective of the WADPI the training is to utilise lessons learned from the recent Ebola epidemic, strengthen national capacities among the 17 West/Central African Partner Nations and to implement an all-hazards approach to disaster preparedness and response management to ensure continued regional collaboration, communication and coordination between member States in disaster preparedness and response.
Mr Barreto da Rosa said the Commission would add all WADPI trained member states into its Emergency Response Team; which would improve their capacity for national as well as regional response.
“We must invest in prevention strategies. Our governments must emphasise on humanitarian governance if we must save lives. The region must promote pre-emptive action and shun reactionary behavior,” he said.
“The WADPI initiative is one of those best practices in this regard and we must own it, practice it and replicate it in the region,” he said.
Mr Barreto da Rosa appealed to KAIPTC to extend the WADPI training programme to Cape Verde, which is the only ECOWAS country that is yet to benefit from it.
“The ECOWAS Commission also calls on the US Government to strongly consider extending this initiative to a second phase,” he said.
Major General Obed Boamah Akwa, the Commandant of the KAIPTC, said the Centre had over the years established itself as a Centre of Excellence for research into various aspects of training in disaster management, integrated peace support operations and post conflict reconstruction.
He said the KAIPTC therefore, strives to train people to engage in those areas towards the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts and how to help rebuild war torn and disaster affected states.
Mr IIsmail S. T. Tarawali, the National Security Coordinator of Sierra Leone, said there was the need for countries in the sub-region to share their experiences in disaster management and to position themselves to respond in a coordinated fashion towards disaster preparedness, mitigation and recovery.
Mr Olabisi Dare, the Head of Humanitarian Affairs in charge of Refugees and Displaced Persons at the Africa Union, applauded the ECOWAS for continuously blazing the trail on the continent in the area of integration, more importantly, in other areas such as disaster preparedness.