|Disaster Preparedness - 2nd Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1994, 66 p.)|
|PART 3 - Implementing disaster preparedness plans|
It is not easy to determine the home base for a disaster focal point. There are advantages and disadvantages to consider related to various options: in the Prime Ministers office, in one of the ministries, or as a separate entity.
A key feature of a disaster preparedness plan must be to ensure that line ministries have vested interests in the disaster preparedness proposal. This means that resources and responsibilities should be parcelled out amongst all those deemed important to the plan. The idea is not to take away the medical functions of a ministry of health, but rather to enhance its capabilities to respond in coordination with other ministries. That does not necessarily mean that a ministry of health would be responsible for the logistics of emergency medicines. It might mean that its responsibility for ensuring emergency medical provisions would be acknowledged, that its institutional strength at local levels would be enhanced, and that its commitment to the plan might be greater.
Q. In your country, which government agency is the focal point for disaster preparedness?
See Figure 4 for help in defining the government agency.
FIGURE 4 Options for integrating disaster preparedness within government structures
In a disaster situation, all responsible officials must have a clear idea of their roles and functions. This is what a disaster plan establishes and what rehearsals test. The effectiveness of implementation can be judged by an inter-ministerial committee and supported by the findings of a secretariat.
It is advisable to have a secretariat to liaise with designated ministries: before implementation of a plan (for information updates, training requirements, and rehearsals); during implementation periods, (for coordinated assessments); and after the first stages of implementation (for second phase programs of recovery and rehabilitation). The roles and resources brought by non-governmental organizations for disaster preparedness, mitigation, prevention and relief purposes should be incorporated into the information required by the inter-ministerial committee on disaster preparedness. The government should also have a mechanism to determine the amount and type of assistance provided by bilateral donors and international agencies.
It is important to bring the planning process to the regional and local levels. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Having established a broad framework for the plan, take the plan and relevant officials to the field to work out the most effective ways to implement the proposal. The means of implementation should include attention to resources for preparedness at the family and local levels. The more centralized administrative planning systems should be in support of local efforts, not vice versa.
A national disaster preparedness strategy or plan should allow regional variations to meet the specific conditions of particular areas. This is essential for ensuring that the institutional structure of the plan has the support of regional and local officials. Establish local working groups to review the plans on a periodic basis and be sure that the substance of these reviews is considered. Where relevant, incorporate these reviews into updates of the overall plan. Such working groups are essential when it comes to warning systems, evacuation measures, and health or nutritional assessments.
Be sure that disaster plan rehearsals are not conducted merely at the central level, but that they combine central, regional and local level interaction. Distinguish in the plan the types of disaster responses that do, or do not, require central government approval.