AFRICOM DIALOGUE: Participants of Tanzania Pandemic Disaster Response Exercise Provide Feedback

US AFRICOM Public Affairs
U.S. AFRICOM Public Affairs

STUTTGART, Germany, Mar 21, 2011 — In early March 2011, more than 100 Tanzanian civilian and military representatives along with experts from international agencies came together in Arusha to assess the Tanzanian government's disaster response plan.

The exercise was hosted by the Tanzanian government, organized by U.S. Africa Command, supported by the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine, and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. It is part of a series of engagements led by U.S. AFRICOM through its Pandemic Response Program for senior and mid-level military leaders to train in disaster management, humanitarian assistance, and pandemic preparedness/response with their civilian counterparts.

U.S. Africa Command's Public Affairs Office received an overwhelming response to the event, in the form of website comments and blogs, from African participants, interagency partners, and AFRICOM staff. Excerpts are included below.

Read more about the event at the following links:

Partner Nation Hosts Pandemic 'Table Top' Exercise, Assess Response Capabilities
Exercise Participants in Tanzania Practice Disaster Response
Tanzanian Government Pandemic Disaster Response Exercise Assembles in Tanzania
Tanzanians Discuss Disaster Preparedness During Weeklong Exercise

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Dr. Faraja Lutula Msemva, Tanzania Ministry of Health and Social Welfare:

"The experience I gained from the PRP TTX is very good and very useful to me and my country. As an emergency preparedness officer in the Ministry of health, I have learned that, apart from health being the lead sector during response to a severe pandemics, efforts from every other sector and stakeholders in the country are of a great importance in order to accomplish and make the response successful. I was happy to work using scenarios made to fit the Tanzanian context, because it was easy for participants to understand, and was indeed like a reality. The TTX has opened our eyes to be able to identify gaps which are in our current pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan and other emergency preparedness plans, this will facilitate the process of reviewing and preparing a better plan. Indeed more PRP exercises are needed including the field exercises in order to build more capacity for preparedness and response to disasters. I also suggest USAFRICOM to support capacity building for disasters and emergency management through organizing or sponsoring short or long courses to officials from different Government sectors who are the key players in disasters and emergency preparedness and response in our country."
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Dr. Charles Beadling, Col (ret):

"First of all, I have participated in both the Phase II event in Kenya and Tanzania. I see three main value-added benefits gained in the PRP Workshop/TTX. For one thing, the host nation is able to identify whether or not they have a pandemic influenza response plan (or an all-hazards disaster response plan.) If they do have a plan, working through the TTX identifies specific gaps in the response plan that can then be corrected. Second, the experience of a combined didactic workshop and TTX provides a minimum level of understanding about pandemic, disasters in general, and essential elements of an effective response. Finally, the networking and communication between the military, civilian government agencies, non-governmental agencies and neighboring countries would not be achieved as effectively by any other method."

"I think we can make future iterations even more effective by giving the work teams opportunities to form, bond and work together earlier in the week. This is a great program and will only get better!"

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Joseph Nyahende, manager of Airports Operations and Facilitation:

"The Tanzania PRP TTX conference provided me an opportunity to learn on how to manage communication in case of real aircraft accident. I will use the knowledge gained to improve our airports emergency plan. It was a great opportunity to me to share various experience, for example, the role of the military during and post pandemic, international community and regional bodies. The learning process is not ending at once it is a continuous process, the PRP exercises are highly recommended in future to save as a bridge between army and civilians, to train and enhance capacity building to respond to emergency of different kinds."

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Dr. Mussa Ibraimo, Provincial Director, Ministry of Health, Mozambique:

"This was a great learning experience. Given that when we may have a pandemic disaster, the Ministry of Health must be involved and we must be prepared. For us to be prepared, we must know how to deal with these difficult pandemic situations. Not only do we have to know how to deal with this disaster, we must work in collaboration with other sectors of government and NGOs, to assure that we have success in managing a disaster and be prepared in our challenges to avoid negative consequences."

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Lt. Col Abilio Langa, Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique:

"The first thing I will comment on is the experience that I have gained so far. This will be beneficial. Secondly, in the perspective of hosting the event, the organizers have included very useful material and a difficult but clever scenario. Because of the disaster management conference, this will help bring together a solid readiness plan for the region. Overall, the participation of the various delegations from all the countries has contributed enormously to the learning experience. I have learned a lot in my area of operations and this will be very useful in my home. This was a fully successful conference."

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Debra Manhique, U.S. Embassy Mozambique:

"This is a great opportunity to have different delegations comes together and share different experiences. This helps strengthen different aspects of how we address disaster preparedness."

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Patrick Nyaborogo, Office of Security Cooperation, U.S. Embassy:

"This is a unique opportunity to bring together different government ministries, organizations, the UN, and NGOs to talk about a very serious matter where we may have major loss of lives and property. This exercise comes at a good time. I believe this will help Tanzania sit down and plan on how to better handle a disaster and pandemics and mitigate loss of life and property if or when a disastrous situation should happen."

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Lt. Col. Leonardo Dimas, National Institute for Disaster Management, Mozambique:
"I would like to point out a financial aspect. Even though we have such exercises in our country regularly, we have to consider that different countries have different ways of organizing and those with weak economies don't always have the opportunity to gather and work together. Therefore, an event like this one is very valuable because it allows for many people, many organizations and many countries to come together and share different experiences."

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Dr. Mussa Ibraimo, Provincial Director, Ministry of Health, Mozambique in Arusha, Tanzania:

"This was a great learning experience. Given that when we may have a pandemic disaster, the Ministry of Health must be involved and we must be prepared. For us to be prepared, we must know how to deal with these difficult pandemic situations. Not only do we have to know how to deal with this disaster, we must work in collaboration with other sectors of government and NGOs, to assure that we have success in managing a disaster and be prepared in our challenges to avoid negative consequences."

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Lt. Col Abilio Langa, Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique in Arusha, Tanzania:

"The first thing I will comment on is the experience that I have gained so far. This will be beneficial. Secondly, in the perspective of hosting the event, the organizers have included very useful material and a difficult but clever scenario. Because of the disaster management conference, this will help bring together a solid readiness plan for the region. Overall, the participation of the various delegations from all the countries has contributed enormously to the learning experience. I have learned a lot in my area of operations and this will be very useful in my home. This was a fully successful conference."

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Debra Manhique, U.S. Embassy Mozambique in Mozambique:

"This is a great opportunity to have different delegations comes together and share different experiences. This helps strengthen different aspects of how we address disaster preparedness."

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Patrick Nyaborogo, Office of Security Cooperation, U.S. Embassy in Tanzania:

"This is a unique opportunity to bring together different government ministries, organizations, the UN, and NGOs to talk about a very serious matter where we may have major loss of lives and property. This exercise comes at a good time. I believe this will help Tanzania sit down and plan on how to better handle a disaster and pandemics and mitigate loss of life and property if or when a disastrous situation should happen."
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Lt. Col. Leonardo Dimas, National Institute for Disaster Management in Mozambique:

"I would like to point out a financial aspect. Even though we have such exercises in our country regularly, we have to consider that different countries have different ways of organizing and those with weak economies dont always have the opportunity to gather and work together. Therefore, an event like this one is very valuable because it allows for many people, many organizations and many countries to come together and share different experiences."

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Captain Jones Ofuasia, U.S. Africa Command, shares advice about how to prepare for a natural emergency:

• Find out where you can obtain reliable information about potential hazards in your area.
• Learn about the official plan for dealing with an emergency arising from extreme weather, water and climate conditions.
• Find out whether the area where you live has suffered emergencies in the past, what, that types of hazard they were, how frequently they occurred, and the type and extent of the damage they caused. This will give a proper experience to the past and make proper preparations for the next.
• Study the surrounding area: identify low-lying places that are at risk of flooding and places that are exposed to high winds.
• Identify escape routes from your home and mark them on a map. Remember that a storm may make a route across low ground or bridges impassable, so if you have to evacuate you will need to leave before the storm arrives. Keep the escape map in a safe place and make sure everyone in the household knows where and what it is.
• If possible, arrange to stay for the duration of the emergency with friends or relatives outside the affected area.
• Where most people have access to cell phones, ask someone who lives outside the area to act as a contact through which family members can communicate their location and situation should they become separated.
• Obtain supplies of wood, plywood sheeting, polythene sheeting, nails and rope for boarding windows and securing external doors.
• Obtain good-quality flashlights or lamps or hand -- cranked radio. Make sure they are in working order and that you have spare batteries.
• Obtain a camping stove and fuel for cooking and heating water.
• Prepare a first-aid box.
• Learn basic first-aid skills.
• Make a list of the supplies you and your household (including pets) will need to survive for two weeks.
• If you are evacuated you may need blankets or sleeping bags
• All these needs a Government which is really committed form the top to the bottom leaderships.

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To read more about what people are saying about AFRICOM, take a look at the public feedback page on our AFRICOM Dialogue www.africom.mil/recentPublicBlogEntries.asp.


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