Liberian Government Committed to Help Build Capabilities for Disaster Risk Reduction

Thursday, 13th May 2010
Monrovia, Liberia - Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. says Liberia is willing to join other nations to shift from emergency response to Disaster Risk management and to build the resilience of national and local communities to disaster. He said as a nation emerging from war, the government recognizes the need to have an institutional framework that will put in place the necessary mechanisms for addressing disaster related risk factors in Liberia. Speaking at the opening of a two-day Disaster Risk Reduction and Sensitization workshop for government officials, the private sector, civil society and academic institutions taking place at the Cape Hotel on Mamba Point on Wednesday, May 12, Vice President Boakai informed delegates that the Liberian government was currently revising and redesigning the Disaster Management plan of 1976 to meet current realities and challenges, and make it fully applicable in the quest to build national and community resilience to disasters. The Clinic being held under the Theme: Building the Resilience of Our Nation and its Communities to Disaster Through the Empowerment of Our decision-makers, attracted disaster risk management experts and other stakeholders from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia. “Our plan is to develop a national Disaster Management Policy that defines parameters within which disaster risk management is implemented, noting, “The draft Disaster Relief Management (DRM) policy offers an alternative to disaster management that seeks to address the root causes of disasters through reducing exposure and vulnerability of people and economic assets in order to reduce or prevent losses”. The Liberian Vice President gave a grim picture of the increase of disaster losses the world over, with grave consequences for the survival, dignity and livelihood of individuals, particularly the poor. Vice President Boakai noted that disaster losses are compounded by increasing vulnerabilities related to changing demographic, technological and socio-economic conditions, unplanned urbanization and development within high-risk zones, under-development, environmental degradation, climate variability, climate change, geological hazards, competition for scarce resources, and the impact of epidemics, noting, “These factors point to a future where disasters could increasingly threaten the national economy, its population and hence sustainable development in general”. In remarks at the ceremony, Internal Affairs Minister Harrison Karnweah reiterated that Liberia remains committed to formulating policy and enacting laws which will reduce and prevent the impact of disaster. He thanked the UNDP for its support to Liberia in its bid to achieve disaster risk reduction, and would continue to incorporate disaster risk reduction in national, county and sect oral plans. Minister Karnweah said Liberia would do all within its means to achieve the Hyogo Framework for Action, ECOWAS Disaster Risk Policy, African Union disaster risk reduction plan action and all other international conventions on disaster risk reduction and climate change. The Internal Affairs Minister then called on Hyogo agencies to continue to support the Liberian government’s effort in strengthening capacity for disaster risk reduction and supplement efforts of government in mobilizing resources. “In our drive to achieve our disaster risk goal, we have completed our draft disaster management policy, while plans are underway to submit a plan to the national legislature creating an agency that will have primary focus on disaster management,” Minister Karnweah said. Also speaking at the ceremony, UNDP Resident Representative Dominic Sam expressed his institution’s determination to remain engaged with the Government of Liberia for disaster risk reduction and management. The Workshop ends on Thursday, May 13.