The Minister of the Interior, Mark Owen Woyongo has charged disaster management organizations to harness and adopt local methods and practices as a strategy in disaster management.
He said indigenous and traditional knowledge such as the use of Asafo and ethic groupings by the people in Central Region and many other local ways of managing disaster could be integrated into scientific knowledge system to enhance risk reduction.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) at Sege in the Greater Accra Region, Mr. Woyongo, in a speech read on his behalf by the Director of Human Resource at the ministry, Mr. Kwesi Assan-Brew said the application of local knowledge has been very instrumental in prevention and control of disaster.
The theme for the celebration was “knowledge for life- showcasing traditional and local knowledge for sustainable disaster management”.
According to him, it was on record that effective emergency response system grounded on tradition has been used over centuries but it was time for it to be harnessed and blended with scientific knowledge to strengthen protection against disasters.
He recalled how local communities used to sound drums to marshal its members especially the strong to respond to looming or real emergencies saying “these useful practices were in the form of search and rescue, provision of relief and construction of bridges at flooded areas.
Mr. Woyongo said the IDDR afforded stakeholders the opportunity to reconsider indigenous knowledge as a useful mechanism in the control and management of disasters adding “traditional knowledge is a national resource that facilitate the process of disaster prevention, preparedness and response in cost effective, participatory and productive ways”.
The acting National Disaster management Organization Coordinator, Brigadier General Francis Vib-Sanziri, underscored the need to grow indigenous methods saying “they were cost effective and sustainable”.
He said the Sendai Framework on Risk Reduction, a global initiative for disaster management, has highlighted the use of local knowledge and encouraged the use of local methods to support scientific knowledge in risk reduction.
According to him, the successful adoption of local and traditional methods of early warning systems and post-disaster recovery strategies will be a beneficial innovation to saving lives, properties as well as the environment.
The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock said the UN was committed to supporting the nation to harness local methods into a well-structured system.
She noted that lessons gathered by UNDP from an earthquake that hit Indonesia and Thailand has shown that local knowledge was very useful.
According to her, after killing several hundreds of people near Indonesia, the earthquake set off with tidal waves and headed towards Thailand but elephants that were used by indigenous at beaches detected the disaster and gave an early signal by running into the bush.
“This prompted the people and other tourists on the beach to flee therefore reducing the impact of the disaster greatly,” she said.
By Charles Amankwa