The Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS), with support from the Swiss Red Cross, has trained 100 Disaster Risk Reduction Volunteers (DRRVs) in Bongo in the Upper East Region on Community Disasters and Preparedness Response.


The two-day training programme, saw the training of 20 volunteers each from five communities — Aniakunkua, Akebga, Atonobugro, Asabre and Azonsedaana.


The volunteers were selected from youth groups, assembly members, women’s leaders, educational institutions, traditional leaders and pastors among others to be headed by a local think-tank selected from their midst who will provide leadership and direction during disasters.


Speaking at one of the training sessions in the Akunka community, the Upper East Regional Manager of the GRCS, Mr. Joseph Abarike disclosed that the training came on the background of a Vulnerability Capacity Assessment that was carried out in 2004 by GRCS in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in four selected districts of the region. That assessment, he disclosed, identified some communities in the Kassena-Nankana Municipality, the Bongo, Nabdam and Binduri districts as vulnerable and disaster-prone.


He said the GRCS thereafter, developed a training scheme targeted at recruiting, training and equipping local community volunteers in a way that was in tandem with the mandate and objectives of NADMO.


This, he noted, would enable the disaster-prone communities to become resilient and prepare to mitigate disasters as well as cope with them, when they do occur. He observed that many lives and property would be saved if communities were adequately trained on disasters such that, they would become ‘first responders’ whilst waiting for external support.


The DRRVs are expected to undertake regular community education exercises on disaster issues, climate change adaption and also teach community members basic disaster response techniques. They will take charge of the frontline in times of fighting disasters in their communities.


Mr. Abarike indicated that the training had important objectives such as reducing community vulnerabilities to disaster, strengthening community capacities to resist disasters, positioning communities to prevent, and prepare for disasters and helping communities to respond effectively to disaster events or any emergency situations. The training would also guarantee quick recovery from disaster events and build resilient communities by developing and promoting best disaster management practices.


According to him, some critical stakeholder-institutions including the Ghana Health Service, the Forestry Commission and the Ghana National Fire Service have been brought on board the training and implementation since their core mandate and activities have a direct correlation with DRR activities.


He said GRCS had already undertaken similar trainings for other vulnerable communities in the Binduri and Nabdam districts of the Upper East Region while the Kassena-Nankana Municipality would be next after Bongo.


At the end of the training, 500 Acacia tree-seedlings were distributed to the DRRVs to serve as wind-breaks. They also received life jackets, aprons, branded t-shirts and fire-fighting tools such as extinguishers and bush-fire control implements including fire-beaters to aid their work.


According to Mr. Abarike, experience had shown that donors and government’s response for relief support during disasters doesn’t usually come in good time, as a result, the attention of stakeholders has now been shifted to Disaster Risk Reduction. He commended the Swiss Red Cross for its tremendous support to the works of the GRCS over the years.


Bongo District NADMO Director, Mr. Clement Akongo, who took the volunteers through the management of community-level disasters, stated that NADMO had stationed Zonal Coordinators who have been working in the communities, pledging their support to the volunteers.


Source: ISD (Peter Atogewe Wedam)


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