Defence Chiefs and other security experts are attending a four-day workshop on Disaster Management and Crisis Response in the East African region at Imperial Botanical Hotel, Entebbe in Uganda, which is ending on August 29.
The purpose of the workshop is to discuss ways in which the army and other security organs like the police force can be involved in managing disasters, whether they are man-made like civil disturbances, or are natural calamities like floods or earthquakes.
Indeed, like one consultant commented, security forces remain largely idle during peace time since the way they are constituted is only for war. Yet these forces are highly organized, and they can respond to disasters in much quicker time than other bodies.
They also have another added advantage – that of getting a big pie from the national budget that can be shared with other institutions. Resources like trucks can be used to ferry a big number of people from disaster-struck areas. There are many instances where one reads of foreign forces evacuating people from a disaster area.
There are others when army engineers are used to very quickly put back a bridge that has broken down, or army doctors sent into areas of affliction – not because civilian experts have failed out of incompetence, but are overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the disaster.
More, security forces are considered to be more rustic – rough-edged if you wish – so that we assume they can deal with even bloody conflicts that are not for the faint-hearted, with more expediency.
The fact that this is a regional force can lend a lot of respectability and zero bias in such cases as unraveling sectarian unrests.
In countries where there is a high degree of accusations of leaders being partial to their geographical birthplaces, a regional disaster management force is highly appealing as it would be regarded as a neutral force.