Sarah Baartman Disaster Management Symposium underway in Makana

BY MARC JACOBSON - FEBRUARY 23, 2017
Sarah Baartman Disaster Management Symposium underway in Makana

A three-day Disaster Management Symposium, hosted by the Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the Makana Local Municipality, kicked off on Wednesday at the Indoor Sports Centre in Joza, Grahamstown.

The symposium, which concludes on Friday, is being attended by various officials from the district's local municipalities as well as local disaster management experts. Its aim is to discuss disaster management related issues affecting communities within the Sarah Baartman District as well as to share knowledge on how to address these.

On Wednesday, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), which has partnered with the Sarah Baartman District Municipality to improve disaster management, said the symposium was essential for service delivery.

“We have seen that climate change has become a reality - it is gaining momentum and many things, including extreme weather, are happening these days,” said Natasha Poni, a representative from SALGA Eastern Cape.

“In terms of temperatures, when it’s hot, it is becoming too hot to bear and when it’s cold, it is becoming too cold. As a result, natural disasters are worseningd and they are becoming everyone’s business.”

She urged local municipalities to seek ways to address the challenges posed by adverse weather and climate change.

“We need to improve disaster management continuously so that we can be able to contribute directly to resilience within our communities. By doing that, we can have a positive impact and sustainably develop those communities,” described Poni.

She urged local government to prioritize vulnerable groups adding that disaster management centres within the district must be more accessible to poorer communities – as disasters often affect the poor worse than they do the rich.

“There are still issues of capacity, whereby we feel disaster management is not well-resourced yet. There is also the issue of who’s role it is to do what, where the municipalities should co-ordinate all of the stakeholders to bring everyone together in dealing with disasters,” Poni said.

Thus, future workshops will seek to create more awareness among communities and disaster management stakeholders about their functions.

“The Sarah Baartman District Municipality has done the groundwork for this. We appreciate the work that they are doing in mitigating the effects of disasters within the district.

“Our involvement in showcasing the municipality’s best practise is so that we can get the other districts that are falling behind to copy this example and catch,” Poni concluded.   

Image: Natasha Poni, a representative from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in the Eastern Cape, addressing delegates at the Sarah Baartman Disaster Management Symposium.