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Ghana records increase disaster incidences in last 3 years

The recorded incidence of disasters in the country has doubled in the last three years, a draft report on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has disclosed.

From 962 in 2016, natural and man-made disasters including floods, wild fires, fuel explosions, pest infestation and collapse of buildings, swelled to 1,134 in 2017 and then to 2,007 in 2018. The figure, however, excludes road accidents.

Last year, the disasters affected 314,472 persons in 3,386 communities, 1,073 schools, and 28,095 houses and 17,957 farmlands, resulting in the death of 142 persons.

“The Voluntary National Review (VNR)” draft report, compiled by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the lead agency in SDGs implementation, tracks efforts the country is making in achieving the goals, has revealed.

It was made available at a national validation forum held in Accra yesterday to solicit stakeholder inputs ahead of its presentation at the United Nations (UN) in July 2019 during the High-Level Political Forum on the SDGs.

The VNR, developed by the United Nations (UN) aims at facilitating the sharing of experiences among member countries, leveraging on successes, challenges and lessons learned to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.

The disaster situation is captured under SDGs 13-Climate change of the report, where it was indicated that 47. 7 per cent of the disasters occurred in the Ashanti, Western (before it was split into two) and Upper East regions.

It said incidence of disaster, which had increased over the last 10 years, had resulted in the loss of life and property, affected the economy and “exposed Ghana’s vulnerability and inadequacies in disaster management”.

Major challenges for disaster management in the country, the report said included limited early warning systems, poor coordination among institutions   and weak post disaster recovery and rehabilitation mechanisms.

It said although Ghana signed a UN “Sendai” Framework, a 15-year voluntary agreement, for disaster risk management in 2013, it was yet to draw up a comprehensive action plan on its implementation.

Over the medium term, it said the government would focus on promoting proactive planning for disaster risks and mitigation, strengthen early warning systems and response mechanisms.

It would also strengthen the capacity of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to perform its mandate.

The Minister of Planning, Prof. George Gyan-Baffour delivering an address at the validation forum, expressed the government’s commitment to achieve the goals and called for national support.

The VRN, he said would help the country tap into the expertise and learn from experiences of other countries to achieve the 17 goals and rallied stakeholders to help enrich it.

Dr Grace Bediako, Acting Director of the NDPC, said since the VRN process started in January this year, it was an opportunity for the country  to check itself and take immediate steps where needed to honour its SDGs obligation.

She said the draft report would be presented to members of parliament for their input, noting that the country’s ability to meet the SDGs targets was dependent on all Ghanaians.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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