Earthquake-prone African nations urged to improve risk assessment

Madam Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on Monday called for improved risk assessment and effective disaster mitigation measures to ensure sustainable development in earthquake-prone countries.

She said there was the need for re-evaluation of the seismic hazard assessment of African countries, to improve building codes design standards for sustainable infrastructure development and safety of the people.

She said the vulnerability of human societies and related human and economic losses due to earthquakes are steadily growing as a consequence of rapid population growth and urbanization.

Madam Oteng-Gyasi made the remarks when she officially opened a four-week training course on seismology, seismic data analysis, hazard assessment and risk mitigation at the national seismic observatory centre in Accra.

The 2018 GFZ training is under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, through the Geological Survey Authority and the German Research Centre for Geosciences, as well as the Federal Foreign Office, Berlin, Germany and the German Embassy in Ghana.

Madam Oteng-Gyasi noted that, the earth was a dynamic system that had undergone changes and still undergoing changes as a result of certain forces that are at work within it, therefore, inducing seismic activities.

In that regard, she said it was crucial for earthquake prone countries, especially the developing nations, to develop the capability to monitor and analyse such seismic activities in order to mitigate the negative effects.

She said Ghana established an analogue seismic network, which was upgraded with a digital one in 2012, to enable the nation to effectively monitor seismic activities.

Additionally, the government constructed the Ghana National Seismic Observatory Centre to enhance the monitoring of seismic activities in the country.

The Deputy Minister added that, for the Geological Survey Authority to enhance its operations, Government enacted the Geological Survey Authority Act, 2016 (Act 928), to give it a semi-autonomous status to function efficiently.

“With this new disposition, it is expected that the new Geological Survey Authority will be in a position to conduct effective, real-time seismic monitoring and risk assessment and advise government accordingly.

“It is also expected to contribute to the government’s programme of diversification of the country’s mineral resource base as well as help fight against illegal mining,” she stated.

Dr Daniel Boamah, the Acting Director-General of the Geological Survey Authority, in his welcoming address, said the annual training programme had played an immense role in the training of researchers from developing countries in the field of geosciences and disaster mitigation.

He believed the training would provide the opportunity for participants to discuss issues of mutual interest, share ideas and data on seismic hazard for further analysis as well as to reduce damages that might be caused to lives and property in the event of earthquake.

According to the Geological Survey Authority, although Ghana is far away from the major earthquake zones of the world, it is prone to earthquake disaster.

He said the country has records of damaging earthquakes dating back to 1636 with the last three recent major ones occurring in 1862, 1906 and 1939, while the recent earth tremor occurred on March 24, 2018.

Mr Han-Hedge Sander, Deputy Head of the German Embassy in Ghana, on his part, said the training would ensure the building of network across the African continent, and assured of the German Government’s commitment to support and sustain the training programme in the ensuing years.

He said the training would enable earthquake-prone African countries to prepare adequately for any potential earthquake in the future and mitigate the damage that would be caused to lives and property.

The annual training programme has already been held in Kenya and South Africa, with over 1,300 seismologists drawn across the continent benefitting.

This year’s course attracted 26 participants from 22 earthquake-prone African countries to improve their technical know-how and share ideas and experiences on how to mitigate the negative effects of earthquakes.

The participating countries include: Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Rwanda, Mozambique, Cameroon, Sudan, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco and Algeria.

Source: GNA

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