Disaster management in for ‘major shake-up’

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Disaster management in KwaZulu-Natal is due for a major shake-up as the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka moves with haste to ensure that municipalities realign their policies to factor in the reality of climate change.

Attendees at the summit

Hlomuka was speaking at the two-day KZN Disaster Summit in Bergville, in the Okhahlamba Local Municipality, which was attended by mayors and senior disaster management officials. The summit aims to address shortcomings in the disaster management space, which includes capacity building, realignment of policies to factor in climate change, and the activation of local structures at ward level to ensure well-coordinated responses to disaster incidents.

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka

Said Hlomuka: “As a province, we have been on the receiving end of bad weather patterns which have left a trail of death and destruction in their wake. During the previous year, we experienced incidents, such as tornadoes, cyclonic winds, floods and hailstorms. In 2019 we lost 208 innocent lives due to these incidents while in the previous year we had experienced 163 fatalities.

“These numbers are too high and this summit aims to respond to these challenges through the realignment and reassessment of policies on; Disaster Risk Management, Mitigation, Preparedness and Sustainable Development at a local level and provincial level” said Hlomuka. The province has disaster management centres located in each district whose primary role is to plan and react to disaster incidents. Hlomuka has vowed to support municipalities in their quest to beef up capacity. “We will be working with our municipalities to ensure that they allocate sufficient budgets for disaster management for things like connectivity, personnel and equipment,” said Hlomuka.

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