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Knysna fire disaster was a test for local disaster management: DMISA conference

By Afikile Lugunya - Sep 28, 2017
Knysna fire disaster was a test for local disaster management: DMISA conference

The Nelson Mandela Bay is hosting the 2017 Disaster Risk Reduction Conference for Africa, which is annually organised by the Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa (DMISA). The conference, which kicked off on Wednesday at the Coega Vulindlela Accommodation and Conference Centre, is expected to conclude Thursday.

The conference follows are decision by DMISA to hold an annual disaster reduction management conference where stakeholders can brainstorm and find solutions to climate change - despite its unpredictability.

DMISA President, Bafana Mazibuko, said that their aim is to not only talk about solutions, but to also put them in action.

“What we want to achieve in this conference is to action some of the frame pillars which is resilience, and we hope that delegates will be in the position to take all the lessons learnt and to implement them in disaster management,” Mazibuko described.

Also speaking at the conference, Dr Mal Reddy, DMISA associate director, highlighted that it is everybody’s role to examine risk management.

“Our message is very clear, the disaster management is everybody’s business, so you don’t stand back and wait for the government to intervene.

“We need to start re-examining our roles, by looking at the risk management areas and interventions and look at resilient communities,” Dr Reddy said.

“Such exercises help us to reflect on our current practices, so the learning curve is through what we prepared, what are some of the challenges and how can we go forward.

“It also helps to have these forums that are critical and abort our attention."

She referred to the Knysna fire disaster that happened earlier this year, when fires left people homeless as something that could have been dealt with differently.

“What has happened in the Western Cape has become the test for us in terms of our disaster management and our contingency plans that still need to be operationalised.  

“By hosting conferences like these, we, as DMISA, strive to ensure that we share the information, and we build the necessary capacity where it matters most,” Dr Reddy said.

DMISA also gave recognition to five individuals for their unique and extraordinary work to making the conference a success. Johan Stander and Colin Deiner received certificate of Extraordinary Service while Owen Henry Becker, Johan Adriaan Minnie and Malisa Reddy received Gold Commendation certificates.