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ECOWAS Members Hold Consultative Meeting to Improve Disaster Management in West Africa

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Heads of civil protection directorates and disaster management agencies from ECOWAS member countries gathered in Niamey, the Republic of Niger Capital city, for the 15th consultative meeting of the Regional Committee for Disaster Management in West Africa (GECEAO).

The four-day workshop began on the 8th of May, 2023, creating a platform that allowed participants to share experiences and improve the capacities of national services in charge of civil protection to develop more effective responses to disasters. The meeting also presented an opportunity for strengthening inter-agency and inter-State cooperation in the areas of disaster and conflict management.

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The main objective of GECEAO is to create synergy in terms of preparedness and response to emergency situations and harmonize procedures to mitigate the effects of disasters and ensure better disaster management in West Africa. For the most part, the workshop aimed to provide capacity building in emergency preparedness and response to improve disaster management across the region.

The Chairman of the GECEAO, Colonel Major Boubacar Bako, highlighted the devastating effects and impact of climate change on West Africa, with floods, drought, and erosion being high-risk disasters in the region. He emphasized that the expected recommendations must come from deep reflections and excellent conclusions that lead to finding lasting, effective, and efficient solutions to these dangerous phenomena, including the continuous strengthening of disaster management services in member states.

The workshop’s opening remarks by Niger Minister for Interior and Decentralization, H.E Hamadou Adamou Souley, called on participants to overview trends of risk across the region, regional response to disasters, and sharing of lessons learned and best practices to improve disaster management at the national level. He also asked participants to develop an early warning system that can be used as the pool of successful experiences and good practices. Furthermore, he urged the participants to work on the underlying factors or structural causes of disasters in West Africa.

In a nutshell, the training was in response to ECOWAS’ request for technical support for consultations to help member states familiarize themselves with existing disaster management tools and come up with recommendations that strengthen collective capacities to provide adequate responses to populations at risk of foreseeable natural disasters. The workshop ended with Ghana being elected as the new Chairperson of the GECEAO for a term of two years non-renewable.

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