The Government of Burkina Faso, in partnership with the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP), successfully concluded day one of the Burkina Faso Disaster Preparedness and Response Exercise in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 14 July 2014.
More than 130 representatives of Burkina Faso’s government, military, national media, African partner nations and international organizations gathered at the Ouaga 2000 Complexe du Centre International de Conferences (CCIC) for the opening ceremony to unveil Burkina Faso’s National Pandemic Disaster Contingency Response Plan and Armed Forces of Burkina Faso Military Assistance to Civil Authority Disaster Contingency Plan.
Senior officials attending the event included, M. BONGNESSAN Arsène Yé, Minister of State, Ministry of Institutional Relations and Political Reform; Dr. Tulinabo S. Mushingi, United States Ambassador to Burkina Faso; Mr. Michael Hryshchyshyn, Chief, Humanitarian and Health Activities, USAFRICOM; Colonel Major Alassane MONE, Secretary General of the Ministry of National Defense and Veterans Affairs and COL Lazare YAGO, Director General of Civil Protection at the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security.
Burkina Faso’s Minister of State, M. BONGNESSAN Arsène Yé, 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 Burkina Faso’s Disaster Management Strategic Work Plan (DMSWP) for defining future capacity and capability building. “Disasters and pandemics affect all aspects of social and economic life, without sparing a single country, and therefore require a good understanding, strong involvement and a synergy of actions from all the stakeholders involved in their management process” said BONGNESSAN. He also noted that “in particular [the exercise] aims at enhancing swift reaction to emergency situations through civil-military cooperation.
In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Ambassador Mushingi noted, “your work underscores your strong commitment to be prepared to meet natural disaster and pandemic threats before they arise.” He further highlighted the mutual work and cooperation that has been accomplished in the development of the plans.
The activities this week are 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. Participants will be grouped into seven teams representing Operations Command; Relief and Rescue; Health; Humanitarian Assistance Rehabilitation; Police, Traffic and Intelligence; Transport, Logistics & Public Works and Armed Forces.
Colonel Lazare Yago, Director General of Burkina Faso’s General Directorate of Civil Protection, affirmed that “strengthening civil protection capacities and capabilities will significantly contribute to enhanced disaster management in Burkina Faso.”
Subject matter experts from African partner nations, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Uganda, are participating in the exercise as facilitators. Ultimately, the goal is to increase the resilience of the West African region to respond to disasters.
“This event will assist you in reviewing your current capabilities and capacities,” said Mr. Michael Hryshchyshyn, Chief, Humanitarian and Health Activities, USAFRICOM. “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 situations.” Hryshchyshyn further stated that it is critically necessary to collaborate closely with neighboring countries, as many times these challenges know no borders.
The USAFRICOM DPP supports African Partner nations to enhance their capacity to mitigate, prepare for and respond to disasters. DPP is being implemented by the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine.