Minister Manjang opens GRCS Emergency Operation Centre
By Cherno Omar Bobb
Hon Rohey John Manjang, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources on behalf of the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia recently officially opened the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) of The Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS).
The EOC provides cutting edge technology that is second to none in the country. It will serve as a hub for coordination, data collection, data storage, data analysis, information dissemination and strategic planning during times of disasters and crises. It will also empower the country to anticipate, respond, recover from disasters, save lives and strengthen the communities resilience.
In her remarks, Hon Manjang said the day marks a significant moment in the history of The Gambia disaster preparedness and response.
She pointed out that in a world where unpredictable seems to be the norm the importance of robust and well coordinated response to disasters and emergencies cannot be over stated.
She said The Gambia like many other nations is not immune to challenges posed by natural and man made disasters, adding that natural and man made disasters do not only threaten lives and livelihood but also test how resilient we are as nations.
She highlighted that GRCS’s partnership with EU, IFRC and Spanish Red Cross is a reminder that the challenges we face are not confine by borders and that it is our collective responsibility to support one another in times of needs.
She further highlighted that GRCS plays a critical role in the disaster and emergency coordination in The Gambia, adding that data is crucial in disaster management.
“The Gambia Government recognise and appreciates the selfless efforts of The Gambia Red Cross Society in disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery in a timely manner and quality,” she said.
Fatou A. Camara, Restoring Family Link (RFL) and Media Focal Point for The Gambia Red Cross Society said in a world where challenges always seems to constantly test our resilience, the establishment of this Emergency Operation Centre signifies a giant leap forward in their preparedness and response efforts.
She added that the EOC is a testament of their unwavering commitment to safeguard lives, provide timely assistance and fostering a sense of security within our communities. “Today we inaugurate more than just a building. We inaugurate a promise to be at the forefront of emergency preparedness and response, to be the beacon of hope in times of darkness and to stand strong when disasters strike,” she also said.
The occasion has been made possible through the unwavering support of the European Union, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Spanish Red Cross
Alasan Senghore, Secretary General of The Gambia Red Cross Society said they want to play their auxiliary role in complementing government efforts in the best way possible.
SG Senghore said they believe that relief is not relief when it comes late, adding that it has to be there when it is needed.
He said that they wanted to be there when disasters strike, adding that they have managed to reduce the gap from over the years from 3 days to 3 hours response time.
He thanked donors and partners for their support but also The Gambia Government for creating the enabling environment for institutions like Red Cross to deliver on the expectations of Gambians.
He also thanked his Governing Board, Management team and volunteers of GRCS for their sacrifices and dedication. “We try to be accountable not only to people who provide the resources to us but also people who benefit from our services,” he said.
Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) congratulatedThe Gambia Red Cross Society for putting up the EOC for the benefit of the entire nation.
He pointed out that the gathering showcase their shared commitment to the safety, well-being and resilience of every community in The Gambia.
“In times of crises it is our duty to come together and draw upon our collective expertise, resources and determination to address the challenges of the people who are living in most vulnerable situations,” he stated and therefore on behalf of the IFRC thanked the European Union for proving the funding for the construction of the EOC of the GRCS as well as the IFRC and Spanish Red Cross.
He went on to say that the EOC will be critical in facilitating coordination, communication and decision making during emergencies but also in anticipating disasters and take action before they happen. “This can safe lives and livelihood but also reduces the financial impact,” SG Chapagain said.
“There is no price to a live saved and the EOC will be fundamental in establishing anticipatory action in The Gambia,” he said further.
Fabakary Kalleh, President of The Gambia Red Cross Society described the day as a significant milestone in disaster management in the country. He noted that Tthe Gambia Red Cross Society did not only went through a transformation in its structures and systems but also in delivery and therefore thank SG Senghore and team for their efforts.
Mr. Kalleh added that there are four critical Cs in emergency (Coordination, Communication, Control and Cooperation) and the EOC provides that for them.
He added that anyone who has cause to respond to an emergency they have the structure and will be willing to share with them.
Abdoulie Fye, Director of Programmes and Operations for The Gambia Red Cross Society made a presentation on what the GRCS Emergency Operation Centre does in emergencies, disasters and crisis and how it facilitate a quick decision making based on the data received and information generated by tools.