President John Dramani Mahama on Thursday directed all Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to, as a matter of urgency commit resources to fund disaster management activities in their areas of jurisdiction.
He said MMDAs should only call on central government for assistance if those disasters in their areas were so alarming or overwhelming and beyond their control.
President Mahama gave the directive in Tamale in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of a two-day NADMO Coordinators’ Conference, which sought to review the national effort at managing disasters.
The conference was on the theme: “Investing in disaster risk reduction and national resilience building: The role of NADMO coordinators”.
President Mahama said the meeting was historic because it was the first gathering at one location of the leadership of NADMO from National, Regional and District levels to deliberate on issues confronting the organization.
He said disasters caused widespread devastation to humanity and that as population of nations increased, the scale of disasters was also increasing with untold human, economic and social losses.
He said in 2011, Ghana suffered economic losses due to floods in excess of GHc13 million with more than 240,000 people being affected.
Adding, the new National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) bill currently before Parliament would make NADMO more efficient to enhance its performance when passed.
President Mahama said the bill when approved would set up a National Disaster Management Fund, which among other things would pick up early warning signals and a Governing Council that would be chaired by the Vice President of the Republic.
The new bill would change Act 517 of 1996, which was enacted by Parliament to manage disasters and similar emergencies in the country.
He said the new bill would also change the new institution from an organization to National Disaster Management Service and build the capacities of the employees, as well as improve their conditions of service to make them deliver more on their mandate.
Mr. Kofi Portuphy, National Coordinator of NADMO complained about the financial constraints confronting the organization, saying “Since 2010, NADMO has been struggling for GH¢70 million to rebuild structures that were destroyed during the disaster but has not yet had the money”.
He called for the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction management issues into national development planning to make the management of disasters easier when they occur.
Mr. Portuphy appealed to the government to empower NADMO with Emergency Accreditation Powers to be able to deal with institutions and individuals who deliberately cause disasters in the country.
Mr. Bede Ziedeng, Northern Regional Minister said rain storms in March this year, affected 21 districts resulting in eight deaths, the destruction of 44 schools and affecting over 34,000 persons in the area.
The Regional Minister expressed worry that NADMO had since not found the needed capital to put the affected persons back to their normal living standards. He urged NADMO to preempt and manage disasters before they occur.