New web portal to ease disaster management

The ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar) has launched a web portal that will help facilitate disaster data and information sharing as well as improve response to disasters.
A river bank burst, flooding the road to Masaka in the outskirts of Kigali in 2012. (File)
A river bank burst, flooding the road to Masaka in the outskirts of Kigali in 2012. (File)

The ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar) has launched a web portal that will help facilitate disaster data and information sharing as well as improve response to disasters.

The portal is being developed with support from Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD).

Seraphine Mukantabana, the minister for disaster management and refugee affairs, said most disasters in the country take the form of small scale events that do not require massive national or international responses, and hence remain largely unnoticed.

“The cumulative effect of these small scale events and their recurrent nature, however, if left unattended to, is likely to undermine community disaster resilience and our development gains and also contribute to the accumulation of major disaster risks,” Mukantabana said.

She said disaster risk reduction is integrated and mainstreamed in the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy as a cross-cutting issue.

“While we have a promising development path, we are well aware of challenges and potential obstacles which would likely impede achievement of these goals due to increasing disaster risks and climate change effects,” the minister said.

“Some factors that contribute to the frequency and intensity of disaster risk include global warming, deforestation, weak infrastructure, sub standards materials, poverty, fast urbanisation, environmental degradation and others.”

Midimar is in the process of establishing an end-to-end early warning systems and disaster communication system to fully functional making response actions timely and effective.

Capacity building and public awareness is at the core of our mandate, according to officials from the ministry.

Rwanda is now finalising a National Risk Atlas through a comprehensive risk assessment so there is a strong need of having in place a well coordinated manner of disaster data and information management, whereby the DRR web portal comes to bridge the gap.

RCMRD was established in Nairobi – Kenya in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) and African Union to promote sustainable development through generation, application and dissemination of Geo-Information and allied ICT services and products in the Member States and beyond.

Jean Baptiste Nsengiyumva, director of disaster risk reduction and preparedness at Midimar, said various trainings are to be conducted to help people know how the web portal will be operating.

“The trainings are being facilitated RCMRD officers who are knowledgeable on how the web portal operates. The first training is a training for trainers (TOT) and since it’s a continuous processes, the participants of the TOT will train their colleagues,” says Nsengiyumva.

“The web portal is going to be a platform that will help all people who wish to get any information on disaster risk reduction. It will be an avenue to get information of anything regarding infrastructure in Rwanda, weather conditions, the number of people affected in a disaster, and the map of the area affected,” he said.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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