It is not only ironic but also absurd and unthinkable that a state agency tasked with a life-saving mandate to minimize the effect of disaster, as well as rescue victims, is virtually without staff trained in disaster management.
It may sound preposterous but the fact is that more than 80% of the current staff of the National Disaster Management Organization is not trained in disaster management, according to the immediate past Director General of the organization, Brigadier General Francis Sanziri.
And, as though that is not enough, he warns that the organization, even with the untrained staff, may be incapable of dealing with any form of disaster if poor budgetary and resource allocation to the organization are not addressed. Additionally, logistics for in-house administration of the organization is woefully insufficient.
It is sad to note the issue of untrained staff at NADMO is due to the fact the organization has been used as a dumping ground for political sympathizers, apologists and foot soldiers by ruling governments, even though they have little or no experience in disaster management.
Backed by an Act of Parliament (Act517), NADMO was formed in 1996 to manage disasters, be it man-made or natural, as well as other emergencies that may occur in the country. This was after Ghana had responded to the United Nations Declaration GAD 44/236 of 1989 declaring 1990 to 1999 as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.
NADOM performs specific functions which are all aimed at ensuring that in times of emergency, the government is ready to support relief efforts. These are rehabilitation services for victims of disasters; mobilization of people at various levels of society to support governmental programmes; ensuring the preparedness of the country in the management of disasters; as well as coordinating the activities of various governmental and non-governmental agencies in the management of disasters.
A juxtaposition of the functions of NADMO as against the dire problems of untrained staff and inadequate logistics certainly results in the truism that the organization is on its knees, requiring a rapt and urgent attention.
In consequence, we at the Daily Statesman dare say that NADMO is on emergency mode. Yes, we dare say the organization lawfully tasked to offer relief in times of emergency is currently in a disastrous situation.
It is against this backdrop that we commend the government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the seemingly prompt response to the issue of untrained staff.
The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo- Maafo, has announced that a special school will be introduced to train the public sector workers, particularly those at NADMO.
“The problem is that if you ask an average worker at NADMO ‘what do you do?’ his answer will be ‘I distribute rice and sugar’. That is not it,” the Senior Minister noted rather sadly, adding that “it is very important that people working are trained specifically to have skills to do their work properly."
Due to the critical role of NADMO in disaster situation, the move by the government could not have come at a better time, especially in the face of strong warnings of heavy rainfall this year by the Meteorological Services Department.
Disaster management is a sensitive and critical subject, hence should be handled with professionalism. It is without doubt that the skills to be acquired by the untrained staff of NADMO will go a long way to create much awareness to the coming rains and avert disaster in flood-prone areas.
We are also of the firm belief that the training will serve as an impetus for NADMO to go beyond being a reactive organisation.
We agree with Eric Nana Agyeman Prempeh, the new NADMO boss, when he asserts that “managing disasters means not only providing relief support for distressed persons but also, and perhaps more importantly, taking measures to forestall the occurrence of disasters in the first place.”
And this, we believe, can only be the case if the people mandated for this work are trained and equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their work effectively and efficiently.