Ghana’s approach to disasters lackadaisical – Dr Manteaw
Dr Bob Offei Manteaw, a Senior Research Collaborator with the Africa Resilience Collaborative Centre, said Ghana’s efforts to prevent, reduce or manage disaster risks over the years had been lackadaisical.
He, therefore, called on the citizenry and the Government to change the national mindset, attitudes and approach towards disaster prevention and management.
Dr Manteaw, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said: “As a country, we do not learn from our past and remain only inclined to take reactionary measures to manage disasters rather than proactive measures to prevent or reduce them.
“As we celebrate the first anniversary of the June 3 twin Circle Disaster it is clear that memories of the sad events of last year are just coming back, yet it is also clear that very little has been done since to prevent the recurrence of such tragic and avoidable situations”.
Dr Manteaw, who is also a Climate Adaptation and Resilience Planning Specialist, said the country had not learned any lessons and was only waiting and hoping without any real action that would prevent the country from meeting the same fate.
He said the country could not continue to live like that, saying, “what happened last year should have redefined our perceptions of risks, hazards prevention and management.
“It should have served as a wake-up call for all to acknowledge and be mindful of the dangers of disaster and hazards in our communities and to be better prepared to address them”.
Dr Manteaw called on the requisite government agencies to approach disaster management with all seriousness, saying that; “the best way to manage disasters is to prevent them by putting in place measures to at least reduce the impact of the disasters when they occur”.
He said some disasters such as earthquakes were natural and could not be prevented, “but a lot of what we call natural disasters in our part of the world are not natural, rather man-made which happens out of negligence and human errors”.
Dr Manteaw said the rains were seasonal and perennial and could always be predicted, adding; “if such predictions are accurate then what we need to do in our communities is to prepare so it does not become a disaster and that is what we mean by disaster risk reduction”.
He urged the Government to be proactive and move away from the mindset and attitude of finding solutions after post disasters.
Dr Manteaw said that Ghana needed to get her priorities right; desilt drains, be on top of waste management, resource the agencies in charge and above all the citizenry needed to be given constant information and education on the dangers involved in such wrong actions.
He said: “The National Disaster Management Organisation and the associated agencies are doing their best, but their hands are tied with limited resources that creates the impression that they are only seen when disasters happen.
“These are some of the reasons why we need to change our attitudes towards disaster management.
“Our best approach should be to prevent or reduce disaster risks and that require a lot of efforts from policy, regulation, resources, education and social behavioral changes”.