SANNIQUELLIE, Nimba – The National Disaster Management Agency says it has developed plans to decentralize its activities in Nimba, a county that has been hit by numerous disasters over the past couple of years.
The NDMA’s manager for risk management and early warning made the announcement during a press conference in Sanniquellie on October 19. Jonathan A. Wordsworth told reporters following a meeting with members of the county disaster management team that the plan would allow the agency to respond more promptly to disaster victims in the county. He noted that it would bring the government closer to the people by transforming the agency from a Monrovia-based one to a nationwide agency.
Over the past two years, Nimba has experienced several disasters, including heavy rainstorms that have significantly damaged buildings and left thousands homeless. However, the most notable disaster was the February 9, 2019 Gboanipea Gold Mine Disaster that left at least 40 illicit miners dead. Many Nimbaians have complained about the delayed and limited response from the central government during these disasters.
Wordsworth said although his agency is required to respond within 72 hours to disasters, it has often failed to fulfill this mandate because the NDMA has been centralized since its establishment. He hoped the decentralization of activities would allow the agency’s impact to also be felt across Nimba.
“Our decentralization plan is in line with the president’s Pro-Poor Agenda that speaks about decentralizing government services so that the ordinary people can feel their impact,” he said.
“The president mandated us to do everything possible to be able to respond in a timely fashion. That’s why we have started moving out to other counties to make our presence felt in time of disaster.”
The process of decentralizing would entail setting up a local office, establishing standard operating procedures, and positioning humanitarian supplies within Nimba for more prompt response. He said decentralizing would also allow NDMA to be more upfront in promoting mitigation and prevention of disasters in Nimba.
Wordsworth observed that most of the flooding and wind disasters experienced in Nimba resulted from dumping trash in drainages and cutting down trees that should serve as windbreakers. He promised that NDMA’s presence in Nimba would limit those practices. However, to achieve these goals, he said a partnership with the media was necessary.
Mack B. Gblinwon, Nimba’s county inspector and a member of the Nimba County Disaster Committee, agreed that decentralization would allow for better response to disasters. In the past, he said the committee had been collecting reports and sending them to Monrovia for information on how to respond.
Featured photo by Jerry Myers