South Sudan discusses strategic responses to disaster management
May 23, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan on Wednesday convened a meeting to discuss relief strategic policy plans, apparently seen as an attempt by the government to respond to mounting food security challenges.
South Sudan became independent state from Sudan on 9 July 2011, following overwhelming vote for secession under self determination clause provided in the 2005 peace deal, which ended over two decades of civil war.
The former rebel movement known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) became the ruling party of the new nation and is confronted by a number of challenges relating to nation and state building, some of which include a large food deficit attributed to low harvest in 2011, brought about by late or unreliable rains in some parts of the country and insecurity in others.
Speaking at a National Disaster Management and preparedness committee, Duer Tut Duer, head of the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) expressed “deep concerns” over increased food prices in the country, reiterating that five border states have been “severely” hit by the food shortage, allegedly due to closure of the north-south bordert, following independence of the new nation.
Duer, however, stressed on commitment of his government to working closely with its humanitarian partners to provide relief assistance to refugees from the neigbouring Sudan. Fighting between rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has displaced forced 140,000 Sudanese to cross the border, according to the UN. Khartoum, however puts the figure at only 46,000.
The government official said that the meeting discussed ways and mechanisms aiming at assembling appropriate techniques to collectively deal with the humanitarian aid organisations devise a strategic approach that seeks to be more instrumental and vibrant in managing and dispensing relief assistance.
He praised the team and described the conduct of the meeting as “timely” which he added “could not have come at any other time better than now”, ostensibly given the shift from disaster response to disaster risk reduction for development planning and programming.
“This paradigm shift clearly dictates the need to understand and define the existing national capacities, identify capacity gaps, and subsequently build these capacities to enhance the national and local resilience at all levels,” said Duer.
The senior relief officer stressed that promoting a resilience-based approach would now be considered the best approach to address humanitarian and emergency issues, while at the same time addressing the structural causes of vulnerability within the country and the communities. He maintained that it would be imperative to build the resilience of the contemporary infrastructures, economies and communities as well as services to withstand pressures from any future hazards.
He stated that disasters were becoming more frequent, complex and in nature, making reference to the 2010 floods in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Unity states. The relief official also spoke about the need to put in place appropriate meteorological and early warning systems that are responsive to the environment and have the ability to predict natural disasters.
Speaking at the same meeting, Minister of Agriculture Betty Achan Ogwaro commended participants for having fully embraced the paradigm shift by advocating risk management in contrast to crisis management, while moving beyond emergency preparedness and response and subsequently integrates policies into development planning.
She added: “This approach clearly dictates the intricate link between disaster and development as well as poverty reduction and economic development.”
Ogwaro stated that promotion of the sustainable growth and development will be an illusion if government ignores preparedness and response mechanisms to disaster in the national development agenda.