International disaster response law (IDRL) in The Gambia - A study on legal preparedness for facilitating and regulating international disaster assistance

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The Gambia: changing protocols key to quick disaster response

When responding to emergencies in The Gambia, Mr. Modou Joof, Deputy Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) believes that “responsible bodies need to reconsider the usual way of doing business.” This belief became action after a nearly two year process of NDMA-supported dialogue and consultation facilitated by The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS). GRCS support consultations with relevant stakeholders on the regulatory environment for international disaster cooperation drawing on legal research by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in International Disaster Response Law (IDRL). The result was an exhaustive report on International Disaster Response Rules and Regulations in The Gambia.

“The report is prepared so we can walk the talk” said Mr. Joof in his opening remarks at the report launch on February 29th 2016 in the city of Kolioli. “This will turn a fresh page in response planning in The Gambia, also leading to reduced protocols during emergencies.”

During the launch event, GRCS Secretary General Ms. Fatou Gaye emphasized that this report is a means to an end and not an end by itself. Ms. Gaye expressed that, as next steps, GRCS will seek to share the findings of the research among parliamentarians, national and regional disaster authorities and other relevant disaster management stakeholders, as well as advocate for the integration of the recommendations into future legislation. Throughout this process, Ms. Gaye said, “it is imperative that government continues to respect and promote the role and responsibility of the National Society in advocating for better legal preparedness for improved disaster response”.

Issues concerning the active involvement of the private sector such as banks in disaster response were also raised among participants, as opposed to the confined role of the sector to development and growth under government policy. “Disaster knows no boundaries, so we are all affected in one way or the other” commented Mr. Mohammed Jallow, representing Megabank.

Commenting on the success of the joint work between NDMA and GRCS, Mr. Joof stated that the GRCS is “one of the most reliable partners of the NDMA. IDRL could be another opening for a greater cooperation and collaboration between the two partners.”

The event drew 85 participants representing NDMA officials, GRCS leadership, IFRC, relevant Government departments, the World Health Organization (WHO), EU representatives, UN agencies, legal advisers and the media.