The Government of Senegal gathered with representatives from the U. S. Government to include, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine (CDHAM), Vermont Army National Guard and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to unveil the Republic of Senegal Disaster Preparedness and Response Plans during a ceremony held in Dakar, Senegal, June 2, 2014.
Senegal's Minister of the Interior, the honorable Abdoulaye Daouda DIALLO, presided over the unveiling of the plans.
The ceremony marked the commencement of a five day event including a three day tabletop exercise and a two day review of Senegalese plans for disaster management enhancement. These activities will validate the plans and enhance current capacities to save lives during a disaster in Senegal. Subject matter experts from partner nations Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, and Togo are participating in the exercise as facilitators. Ultimately, the goal is to raise the resilience of the West African region.
Improved regional collaboration in the event of a complex humanitarian emergency is very crucial. According to Michael Hryshchyshyn, Chief of Humanitarian and Health Activities, USAFRICOM, it is absolutely necessary to work closely with neighboring countries, as many times these challenges know no borders.
DIALLO encouraged participants to take advantage of the appropriate tools and methodologies that will help Senegal to better capitalize on disaster management preparedness at both the national and regional levels. He also expressed his gratitude to USAFRICOM for this partnership and support.
"The exercise is a starting point for the development of a National Disaster Response Strategic Plan in order to build our government’s disaster response capabilities," said DIALLO. "The disaster simulation tabletop exercise will enable the Government of Senegal to measure and evaluate its ability to prepare for, and respond to disasters, while promoting interoperability between stakeholders. It will also help familiarize stakeholders with their roles and responsibilities."
The event represents successful international collaboration, hosted by the Government of Senegal, sponsored by USAFRICOM and executed by CDHAM.
According to U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director for Senegal, Susan Fine, USAFRICOM’s engagements in disaster preparedness with Senegal have strengthened partnerships and friendships, which in turn have enhanced regional collaboration in national pandemic preparedness and disaster response.
"Innovative collaboration between the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Africa Command formed the basis of U.S. engagement with Senegal," said Fine. “We are celebrating today the efforts which culminated in these plans.”
More than 100 representatives from Senegal's government, military, national media, African partner nations and international organizations are participating in the event.
“This event will assist [Senegal] in reviewing your current capabilities and capacities,” said Hryshchyshyn. “It will further assist in identifying areas where we could work together when preparing for and mitigating a complex humanitarian emergency, such as in a severe pandemic disaster, flood, or other catastrophic situation.”
The exercise is structured to clarify the roles and responsibilities of civil and military authorities during major concurrent disaster events and identify disaster management strengths, weaknesses and gaps.
Throughout the exercise, participants will be grouped into teams representing health, security, logistics, communications and operations. They will review three plans which have been drafted; The Republic of Senegal Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan, The Military Support to Civil Authorities Disaster Contingency Plan and the Military Pandemic Contingency Plan. The concluding event will allow Senegalese authorities to discuss plans for enhancement of disaster management capabilities over the next five years.
The USAFRICOM Disaster Preparedness Program supports African Partner nations to enhance their capacity to mitigate prepare for and respond to disasters. This program was initiated in 2009 in collaboration with USAID and other international partners.