Abstract

The past two decades have seen an increasing trend in national disasters in Ghana resulting from natural catastrophes and human activities. In the past few years however, the range of threats have dramatically shifted to human activities leading to environmental degradation, infectious diseases and other public health hazards, technological and chemical hazards, and conflicts with consequences to public health and climate change. Across the country but largely in cities and towns, the threat for disaster are created through poor sanitation and building plans, mining and forestry practices, poor regulation and enforcement, lack of education, corruption and greed, and poor health and safety practices. Response to disaster and emergencies such as floods, bushfires, drought, deforestation, collapsed buildings, infectious disease outbreaks, unsafe food and water contamination, and road accidents have been adhoc, haphazardly planned and poorly supported. There is a lack of collaboration and partnership among the institutions responsible for managing these risks and disasters. The efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), ministries of health, agriculture, mines and natural resources, ambulatory and fire services are all independent of each other on the one hand and isolated from the community, NGOs, civil societies and research institutes on the other.

These had led them to operate in silos, pursue individual policies at the detriment of maximising the scarce resources and capacities available to support risk management. Sordidly, providing relief to disaster victims is currently politicised by governments and political parties for campaign and voting purposes, leading to political inteference and manipulations. These short term approaches to disaster management had been the cause of recurrent preventative catastrophes, public health challenges and rapid environmental degradation experienced in Ghana. We are advocating for a multi-sectoral approach to emergency and disaster management in Ghana by all sectors and partners involved to ensure adequate prediction, regulation, prevention, and lessons for mitigation and monitoring, information and education to the public. NADMO cannot continue to haphazardly support disaster victims, nor the EPA overwhelmed with the growing challenges. We are calling for clear national policy direction and systems approach to disaster, risk and emergency management that allow for effective partnership, encourage capacity strengthening and resource collaboration among all partners for effective measures towards prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

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