The University for Development Studies (UDS), in partnership with the Tulane University, based in New Orleans in the United States, is to start a post graduate programme in Community Disaster Resilience next academic year.
The programme has an ultimate aim to create a Centre for Disaster Resilience Research to gather information beneficial to the West African sub-region.
Professor Kwabena Kyei-Aboagye, Acting Dean of the UDS School of Medicine and Health Sciences who announced this at a stakeholders’ meeting in Tamale to critique the draft of the programme, said the centre would inform, guide and influence policy makers to plan comprehensively to mitigate effects of disasters.
“The centre hopes to provide early warning signals using modern technologies to tag and bring to fore, through research, and adapt indigenous technical knowledge and coping strategies”, he said.
Prof. Kyei-Aboagye said it would focus on combining theory, research and field work to adequately prepare government and non-governmental institutions that deal with disaster situations to respond appropriately and timely.
He said one surest way to reduce the impact of disaster was to invest to prepare, plan for, absorb, recover from, and adapt to adverse events such as seasonal floods, industrial disaster, structural collapse, ethnic and chieftaincy disputes.
Dr Ishmael Norman, West Africa Director of Strengthening Leadership in Disaster Resilience Program (SLDRP), said the new post graduate programme was under the SLDRP, which started at the University of Ghana with focus on health.
He said aside that of UDS, which is solely based on building community resilience, plans were far advanced to rope in the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to introduce a related programme in the use of technology and innovation for disaster resilience while the University of Education would also focus on education.
Dr Norman said since the start of the SLDRP, 19 national critical institutions in the country, 75 faculty members from 23 universities in West Africa had benefited from capacity building programmes.
Professor Ku Luu, Executive Director of SLDRP, Tulane University, stressed the need to develop effective approaches towards supporting communities to deal with issues, including drought and conflict.
He said recent disasters, including accelerated climatic events, rapid population growth and its economic impact in the world, had called for urgent measures to inform the public and suggest various adaptation methods to cope.
Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, Pro-Vice Chancellor of UDS, said the three northern regions were prone to disasters, which impacted negatively on the social, health and economy of the people and that the new programme through the participatory community research, would help prove home grown adaption methods.
He said decision-makers in the region would be trained to appreciate the need to prioritize and plan for disasters.