SA revisits disaster management strategies amid COVID-19

Friday, November 27, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to strengthen government’s risk reduction strategies and disaster management frameworks, systems and personnel, says Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister made the remarks on Thursday during this year’s virtual International Day for Disaster Reduction on Thursday.

“More has to be done to ensure that our overall risk reduction and disaster management strategies are multi-sectoral and create linkages to our broad development aspirations,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

Strategies, she said, must also find tangible expression at provincial and national levels, and must have all stakeholders involved, “so that all of society can be active participants in prevention, avoidance and mitigation”.

The Minister said going forward, government must ensure that disasters do not result in loss of lives or infrastructure.

“Consequently, we must formulate active partnerships with the academia and throughout society, ours must be a data and information driven response, which is faster and more effective.

“Our strategies must respond to multiple hazards or disasters, and should have an early warning system. They must also be adaptive and effective.”

Dlamini-Zuma said now is the time to raise the bar and ensure that there are more resilient plans for future generations.

The implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction with its seven targets and 38 indicators sets the foundation to do so.

“May we use this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction to take stock of where we are, so that we may enhance our disaster management architecture,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

COVID-19, she said, has shown that any disaster affects everyone at varying degrees. 

“This International Day avails the possibility to strengthen our individual, community, government and civil society contributions towards becoming agents of change in building a disaster resilient nation and communities.”  

She urged the public to use 2020 to recommit to engaging in preparedness planning on an individual, organisational, and institutional basis throughout the country.

“We call on local and provincial governments to ensure our preparedness to handle any form of disaster. This will require sound partnerships between citizens, government and the private sector.”

Dlamini-Zuma reiterated that impoverished and unskilled communities will not have sufficient resources, safety nets and infrastructure to withstand any type of disasters. Unequal societies, she said, will not have the capacity to holistically develop and implement effective recovery plans.

“Consequently, we must not isolate our disaster prevention and management plans from our developmental aspirations. It is only empowered and economically developed communities that can anticipate, withstand and better recover from disasters.

“In order to ensure that we build resilient, vibrant, connected, sustainable and climate smart communities, we are implementing the District Development Model in all 52 district spaces.”

The building of such communities requires a developmental local government that is “committed to working with citizens and groups within the community to find sustainable ways to meet their social, economic and material needs, and improve the quality of their lives”, Dlamini-Zuma said. –