Thursday, March 06, 2008

(TIMES) Decentralise disaster management — Sejani

Decentralise disaster management — Sejani
By Times Reporter

MAPATIZYA member of Parliament, Ackson Sejani (UPND), has recommended that Government should decentralise operations of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) to speed up its response to natural calamities. Mr Sejani said in Parliament yesterday that in its current form where offices were only in Lusaka, it took time before the DMMU could respond to a disaster in rural areas.

He said this when he presented to the House a motion on the long-term national disaster management and mitigation plan. The motion by Mr Sejani urges the Government to develop a comprehensive long-term national disaster management and mitigation plan that places more emphasis on prevention rather than management of disasters and to address structural issues that exacerbate the impacts of natural calamities in Zambia.

Mr Sejani further recommended that there was need to look at the preventive and mitigation measures of the effects of natural calamities. He claimed that Government had not put in place proper planning measures to address the effects of natural calamites.

He argued that as the case was this season, where the country experienced floods, if there were sufficient dams the water could be stored and used in times when there was drought.

On the construction of most structures, Mr Sejani said they lacked the strength to withstand natural disasters. He also said there was need to activate operations of country planners to avoid the mushrooming of illegal settlements.

He regretted that there was no mention of disasters in the Fifth National Development Plan and the Vision 2030 when issues of global warming and climate change were a worldwide concern.

He said the DMMU Act should be brought to Parliament and that amendments to the piece of legislations be made. He suggested that the Act should be called Disaster Prevention, Management and Mitigation Unit.

In seconding the motion, Mfuwe MP Mwiimba Malama (PF) said since the DMMU had a gigantic task, Government should increase funding to the unit. This, Mr Malama said should be so because it was the duty of Government to save people’s lives regardless of their localities.

He said Government should set up permanent DMMU offices at district level so as to avoid the bureaucracy of coming to Lusaka in search of aid.

Finance and National Planning Deputy Minister, Jonas Shakafuswa, said both the FNDP and the Vision 2030 had addressed problems of climate change. He, however, said that as much as he was in full support of the motion, he had expected Mr Sejani to suggest to Government where the resources would come from to support the DMMU.

As things stand, he said monies should be moved from one department to the DMMU. Decentralising the operations of DMMU, Mr Shakafuswa said, was an expensive venture.

Moomba MP, Vitalis Mooya (UPND), said there was need for Government to regulate the designs and construction of many infrastructures. He said engineers, architects and others should be included in the supervisory role.

He said most of the infrastructures easily collapsed because there was no supervision during the construction stage. He gave examples of classroom buildings, bridges and some roads. He suggested that the Engineering Association of Zambia (EAZ) be engaged in the supervision role.

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