Government agencies, UN organizations and several NGOs, on Wednesday, concluded a two-day “emergency simulation” exercise in Kigali, to test the status of emergency preparedness in the country.
Its objectives were to strengthen partnership between agencies to better respond to emergencies; test the efficacy of preparedness measures; and to identify sector strengths and weaknesses.
Commissioner of Police, Cyprian Gatete, the head of the National Disaster Management Centre in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), explained the exercise that involved dealing with floods.
“We imagined that floods have displaced 100,000 people and many have died, others are missing; relief from outside is cut since the airport is closed, there is some child trafficking and in terms of epidemics, cholera has come up – how do we deal with such a situation?” he explained.
“If the real thing happened, we want to know – what would be the role of UN agencies, NGOs, the Government, which ministries, who does what”.
Gatete noted that the workshop had realized that there is need for coordination between Government, the UN and NGOs. It was also evident that there was need to have a master plan, an integrated preparedness plan which covers UN, Government and other partners.
The exercise was co-organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“We have identified the resources that are required, the need to continue training. We have noticed that this information should go down to the people in lower levels, especially district disaster management committees. It is a wakeup call to always be ready,” Gatete said.
The recently established MIDIMAR is working to increase the capacity of district and sector disaster management committees so that they effectively respond to disasters.
In June, disaster management officials from Musanze and Rubavu districts completed a one-week training workshop in Musanze that focused on public health emergency planning and management during disasters.
The two districts are prone to various disasters, and in May, were hit by landslides and floods that destroyed property, crops and even lives,.