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Bloemfontein - The work done by disaster management officials at all levels of the government is crucial, Co-operative Governance Minister Lechesa Tsenoli said on Wednesday.
“Life can be good, but life can be bad, absolutely bad, and if you are not ready, something is wrong,” Tsenoli told delegates at the Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa’s (DMISA) annual conference.
The delegates are meeting for two days in Bloemfontein under the theme “Building resilience: Communities getting ready”.
Tsenoli encouraged delegates not to give up on their efforts to create resilient communities.
He acknowledged that many disaster management managers had to battle with local authorities to spend money in creating a resilient environment.
“You must show courage and be persistent, because you will be resisted,” he said.
The minister related various stories of officials around the world who had persisted in creating a safe environment, which eventually saved lives in later disaster situations.
These examples included a school in a tornado region where the local disaster official insisted on regular evacuation exercises which eventually saved children’s lives, and a Japanese mayor’s struggle with town authorities to build a wall which saved the town from a tsunami.
Tsenoli drew applause when he said municipal leaders had to take disaster management issues seriously when budgets were compiled.
“We cannot afford not to resource with money,” he said.
A delegate also urged the minister to organise workshops on disaster management for the country’s mayors because they did not take disaster management seriously.
The annual DMISA conference provides an opportunity for stakeholders in disaster management from across Africa to gather and share skills, knowledge and experience.