Exercise Participants in Tanzania Practice Disaster Response

Maggie Menzies
U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs

ARUSHA, Tanzania - Daniel Gambo (right), National Emergency Management Agency, Nigeria, and facilitator of the operations group, leads discussions on establishing liaisons with the health, logistics, communications and security groups during the Tanzania National Pandemic Disaster Response Tabletop Exercise at Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, March 9, 2011. The five-day exercise, led by U.S. Africa Command with the support of the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM), and the U.S. Agency for International Development, brought together civilian and military representatives along with experts from international agencies to assess and develop a national disaster response plan for Tanzania. (Photo by Khalfan Said for the U.S. Embassy, Dar es Salaam)
ARUSHA, Tanzania - Lieutenant General Joe Inge (Retired), Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine and a lead facilitator for the Pandemic Disaster Response Exercise, provides guidance, delivers the exercise rules, and outlines the scenario for exercise participants at the Tanzania Government National Pandemic Disaster Response Tabletop Exercise, March 9, 2011. The exercise is being held at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania. Later that day, participants were divided into functional groups -- operations, logistics, security, communications, and health -- to practice supporting a National Disaster Operations Center and developing responses to potential disasters. (Photo by Khalfan Said for the U.S. Embassy, Dar es Salaam)

ARUSHA, Tanzania, Mar 9, 2011 — After two days of plenary talks, facilitated lectures, and lessons-learned discussions, participants of the Tanzania Pandemic Disaster Response Exercise were given the chance to apply what they learned to develop a response plan for a potential pandemic disaster scenario, March 9, 2011, in Arusha, Tanzania.

"Theory without practice is futile, and practice based on proven theory is rewarding," said General Davis A. Mwamunyange, chief of Defence Forces, Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF). "We look forward to participating in this hands-on table-top exercise," he said.

"Training and exercise programs are essential to pandemic preparedness and greatly enhance response capabilities," said exercise facilitator Lieutenant General Joseph Inge (retired), Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine, in the morning introduction of the scenario.

The events of the scenario are not real. It is simulated to provide participants with a realistic sequence of events and show how quickly a pandemic situation can descend into chaos and ultimately disaster. The exercise will take place over three days and each decision made by the groups representing sectors of government determines the next set of problems they will face. Sectors of government that will be tested include logistics, operations, security, health and communications. All sectors must work together.

"Collaboration is the path to success," said Nyancheghe Nanai, the assistant director of operations in the prime minister's office and a member of the exercise's operations group.

"This [exercise] will assist the government of Tanzania in identifying gaps in existing pandemic plans. It will help develop a comprehensive national pandemic preparedness and response plan, and lay the groundwork for building the national response capacity," Inge said.

The scenarios and events will conclude on Friday with a review to identify gaps and shortfalls in current Tanzanian policies and plans.

This Tanzanian national government Pandemic Disaster Response tabletop exercise is led by AFRICOM through its Pandemic Response Program. The intent is to strengthen Tanzania's capacities to plan for and respond to a national and regional pandemic disaster.

PRP is funded by U.S. Agency for International Development. In Tanzania, it is implemented by AFRICOM.