The Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states intend to establish a Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre as part of improving preparedness and emergency response capacity during disasters.
The objective of the centre is to coordinate humanitarian and emergency support to member states affected by disasters within the region, thereby contributing to disaster risk reduction and resilience building.
The SADC secretariat on Friday, 19th November, 2021 convened a virtual emergency joint meeting of the technical committee responsible for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) with the national focal points to fast track the operationalization of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC).
Chairing the meeting, Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), Charles Kalemba emphasized the fact that the meeting should come up with action points which when approved by the SADC Council of Ministers will result in actions that will reduce disaster risks.
Kalemba said in view of the ever increasing frequency and magnitude of disasters in the region, it was imperative to fast track the operationalization of the centre to make SADC countries able to respond to disasters in time.
“We need to come up with solutions which when presented and approved by the Council of Ministers, will result in actions that will reduce disaster risks,” said Kalemba.
He said that the region has already started receiving reports of strong winds which are causing havoc in certain areas, hence important for the technical committee to deliberate on action points that will change things.
He said: “The centre will improve coordination and humanitarian capabilities in Malawi and the SADC region hence the need for it.”
In August 2019, the SADC Council of Ministers directed the SADC Secretariat to operationalize the SADC preparedness and response mechanism which includes the operationalization of the SHOC.
During its meeting in March 2021, the Council approved the instruments for the establishment of the SHOC and accepted the offer by the government of Mozambique to host the centre.
The Mozambican Government, the then SADC chair, offered land and a building to be the SADC SHOC and was launched by His Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi in June 2021.
In an interview, one of the participants in the meeting, DoDMA’s Deputy Director for Disaster Response, Fyawupi Mwafongo said when a disaster of a big magnitude occurs in a member state, it is important that a team should be deployed to assist in managing the response operations.
Mwafongo said it was a welcome idea to have the centre as it will deploy regional capabilities including the emergency response team and the SADC stand-by force to assist in humanitarian and emergency support in line with the DRM coordination mechanism.
“There is need to have emergency response teams, capabilities and mechanisms at regional level. That will also lessen the burden affected nations carry when disasters occur,” said Mwafongo.
According to Kalemba, the proposals made in the meeting will be taken to the ministers meeting proposed to take place in December, 2021 which will then be submitted to the Council of Ministers to be held in March 2021 for approval.
Photo Credit: Malawi News Agency
Photo Details: A group photo of SADC Heads of State and Government captured during the 41st Summit held in August 2021, Lilongwe