Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has told the High Level Disaster Preparedness and Response Meeting that it is only through a well-formulated response strategy—both in terms of available resources and as a result of the training required–that this nation might prevail against disaster.
The Liberian Vice President said that bitter experiences have taught us that irregular or knee-jerk responses to situations of disastrous proportions, usually leave us with casualties that should not have been, had we been better coordinated.
Vice President Boakai made these remarks on Tuesday when he formally opened a Government High Level Disaster Response Meeting that convened at a local hotel to consider guidance for the future organizational structure of disaster management in the Country.
He identified mechanisms to coordinate activities between government ministries and agencies and other stakeholders in the event of a disaster. The Vice President also identified requirements which need further research and action to improve the ability of the Liberian Government to effectively manage disasters and to recognize actions needed for Liberia to comply with Ecowas’ mandate.
Hon. Boakai pointed out that no matter how many volunteers or resources one may be able to command from the outside in the event of a disaster, disaster preparation must begin with the host, saying “The better prepared you are, the better you can effectively guide the efforts of those who come to assist.”
Speaking further, Vice President Boakai cautioned the meeting that the purpose of the forum was to examine the Liberian Government’s disaster management plans, policies and procedures, and assess their adequacy to respond to a major local, regional or global disaster event. He told the meeting to take into account the low-level of Liberia’s preparedness and noted that we can do far better and we should.
VP Boakai furthered that “Government remains focused, and there is a political will; with our eyes set on the course—even in the face of scarcity of needed resources and technical knowledge—we will explore the most efficient measures of preparation. Disaster does not discriminate and does not choose its victims whether rich or poor, partisan or opposition, weak or strong,” he added.
On Monday, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai met with Officials from the National Disaster Management Organization of Ghana, the United States Africa Command, National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria, and the Chair on the Committee on Disaster of Nigeria on Capitol Hill ahead of the High Level Disaster Preparedness and Response Table Top Exercise.
The Officials were, Mr. Kofi Arthur, of the House of Parliament of Ghana, Mr. Ebenezer Kofi Portuphy, of the National Disaster Management Organization of Ghana, Mr. Erik Threet, of the United States Africa Command and Mr. Muhammed Sani Sidi, Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency and Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde. They were accompanied to the Office of the Vice President by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Rennie Jackson.
According to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Morris Dukuly, the purpose of the meeting was to stimulate discussion among senior officials of the Liberian Government on matters related to improving national disaster management and preparedness capabilities of the country.
The meeting was organized by the members of the Liberian Technical Core Team, National Disaster Relief and funded by the United States Africa Command and their implementing partner, the Center for Disaster Humanitarian Assistance Medicine.
During the Monday’s meeting Vice President Boakai stressed the need for a clear-cut mandate and implementable terms of reference for Liberia’s disaster relief program, as the Ebola virus continues to “snowball” in the region.
In his address today, Vice President Boakai recalled the No Way Camp Disaster, and so many others including the recent fire disaster that left many dead and homeless at Johansson and other fires and storms across the country that destroyed lives and properties.
“Today’s meeting is expected to provide a deeper understanding of the challenges that are likely to arise during a major disaster event, identify gaps in the Liberian Government’s disaster management, and recommend changes to plans, policies, and procedure.”
Health Ministry authorities in Monrovia have announced that eleven persons have so far died from the Ebola Virus as the Government continues to take measures including awareness programs to stop the spread of the deadly virus that has also left many dead in neighboring Guinea.
United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, the Program Manager of the United States Africa Command, Erik Threet, Louis K. Davies-Morris, Director of the National Disaster Relief Commission of Liberia, Daniel Gambo of the National Emergency Management Agency of Nigeria and George Kofi Arthur of the House of Parliament of Ghana, and Mr. Ebenezer Kofi Portuphy National Coordinator of the National Disaster management organization of Ghana among several international guests as well as Officials of the Liberian Government were in attendance.
There were presentations on the United Nations and Ecowas mandate, disaster preparedness program overview, the legislative process, committee oversight and resources, Ecowas Policy and guideline disaster relief management structures and systems and disaster coordination and legal structures, according to a release issued by the Office of the Vice President.