A 12-member Upper West Regional Disaster Management Committee has been inaugurated in accordance with law to prevent disasters and mitigate their effects on lives, property when they occur.
The functions of the Committee include; preparation of regional plans for the prevention and mitigation of disasters and coordinating the preparation and implementation of Municipal and District Disaster Management Plans.
Other functions of the committee are to liaise with public institutions, non-governmental organisations and donor agencies for financial support and provision of logistics for the management of disasters and to perform other functions relevant to the Committee.
Dr Hafiz Bin Salih, the Upper West Regional Minister who inaugurated the Committee thanked members for accepting the responsibility, urging them to endeavour to bring their various unique skills to bare on the work of the Committee.
He noted that in order for the Committee to succeed in the discharge of its duties, it was important for members to put in place disaster risk reduction plans and increase their response capacities in the event of rainstorms, windstorms and fire since these events constituted the largest form of disasters in the region.
Dr Bin Salih, indicated that this year, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) reported that the Nandom Municipality, Wa East and Wa West Districts recorded some windstorms, which affected a total of 259 people with an estimated cost of damage amounting to GHȻ124,524.00 with no deaths and injuries.
He said a total number of 1,002 rooms and 17 classrooms had their roofs completely or partially ripped-up by the rainstorms displacing a total of 5,058 people with estimated cost of damage amounting to GHȻ1,535,543.00.
The Regional Minister noted that the region equally witnessed some domestic fires affecting 10 communities and some schools with the worst affected being Wa Islamic Senior High School (SHS), which had two of its student dormitories completely destroyed, thereby affecting 371 people with estimated cost of damage amounting to GHȻ1,677,116.90.
Dr Bin Salih noted that although NADMO supported the affected victims with the distribution of 200 bags of 25kg rice, 100 gallons of cooking oil, 50 bags of sugar, 100 blankets, and 20 packets of roofing sheets, more still needed to be done to help them get back to their feet.
“The foregoing damages caused by these disasters stressed the need to make conscious efforts to reduce disaster risk. We need to adopt multiple strategies that will be integrated into regional and District Plans, budgeted for, operationalized and the necessary disaster coordination techniques improved”, he said.
“Also, crucial information on traditional early warning systems should be collected, analyzed, compiled and disseminated to relevant stakeholders to mitigate disasters”, he added.
Dr Bin Salih urged the Committee members to bring their expertise to bear in the formulation of these plans to promote the culture of prevention of avoidable instances of disasters; and adequately mobilize the limited resources to counteract disasters when they occur.
Alhaji Rashid Pelpuo, Member of Parliament (MP) for Wa Central Constituency pledged on behalf of his colleague MPs from the region their commitment to help contribute ideas and resources to ensure the Committee succeeded in its mandate.
Mr Ahmed Mustapha, the Regional Director of NADMO said the Committee was committed to following strictly its plan of activities to ensure that the annual effects of disasters in the region would be reduced.
The 12-member Committee comprised; the Regional Police Commander, the Regional Fire Officer, the Armed Forces Garrison Commander, the Regional Director of Health Services and the Regional Director of Social Welfare.
The rest are the Regional Director of Information Services, the Chairperson of the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Risk Management, the MP for Wa Central representing MPs from the region, the Regional Director of NADMO as the Secretary and the Regional Minister as the Chairman.