By Fidel Amakye Owusu

1. On September 8, 2023, a powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.8 struck Morocco. With its epicenter in the Atlas Mountains, it killed many in the villages around the area. Many lives of the historically significant city of Marrakesh were lost–sadly.

2. Two days later, Libya, two countries away from Morroco lost more lives from a heavy storm not seen in recent times. Storm Daniel struck Eastern Libya and in combination with some structural debacles brought havoc on the people. More than 11,000 perished.

3. And so what?

4. While the two unfortunate incidents were of different causes and in different countries, what remained common in both was the fact that natural disasters are unforgiving and inconsiderate. What makes the difference, however, is how different systems manage them.

5. In Morocco, where institutions are relatively robust and disaster management agencies are significantly equipped, the aftermath of the disaster was not as dire as Libya had been. The Eastern Libya authorities were not as prepared. The destruction of dams and the exposure of explosives made disaster management more difficult and risky.

6. News that over 1.7 million Somalis will need emergency aid after floods further makes the case for effective emergency preparedness and management an important subject for Africa.

7. After decades of instability, Somalia is currently putting pieces together to serve its people. This is happening concurrently with the fight against violent extremists where the government making gains. Despite the incremental progress, Somalia is still financially weak.

8. This means that investment in disaster preparedness and management is adversely affected. Funds are spent on the “most pressing” needs that are at hand. Little or nothing is invested in mitigating disasters that “may” not happen. Even for relatively stable states, this problem persists.

9. Way forward?

10. With climate conditions and weather patterns changing so rapidly, and seismic activities becoming more deadly due to increasing population and nucleated settlement patterns, there is no excuse not to prepare for natural disasters that result from them.

11. For weak systems like Somalia, this is crucial to safeguard the system from further descent into insecurity. When the people feel the system cannot protect them in these low times, they may seek general protection elsewhere. When the alternative is a destabilising force, national security is jeopardized.

12. Development and security partners of these states need to pay special attention to disaster preparedness and management as a sine qua non of efficacious security. The provision of equipment to fight terrorism is not enough if states cannot manage disasters before external help is sought.

13. Emergency preparedness is critical to statehood.

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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