By Ousman Saidykhan
The Executive Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) Sanna Dahaba has expressed regret over the death of at least 10 people as a result of a windstorm. Mr Dahaba told the media that “any soul that is lost as a result of a disaster, is a big loss to the nation” during a press conference at their Office in Kanifing South.
It could be recalled that a heavy windstorm struck the Gambia on Wednesday night, July 8th 2021, claiming the lives of at least ten people. Some among those people were said to have died after trees fell on their houses while others were wounded by their roofs after been blown away.
NDMA confirms that nine out of those who died were from North Bank Region and one from West Coast Region. Executive Director, Mr Dahaba said that President Adama Barrow is aware of the disaster and held an emergency meeting with their Agency.
Mr Dahaba was not specific as to what exactly they discussed with the President, however, he said, “we are all aware that in any disaster, the government bear the primary duty. So, the welfare of the citizens of this country, the government is not taking it lightly. This was why the president called for an emergency meeting this morning [Thursday] so that we can brief him- so that the government can take its rightful decision.”
Mr Dahaba revealed that apart from the ten who lost their lives, three thousand one hundred and fifty people have been affected already. He added that over one thousand five hundred have been displaced internally at the time of the press conference held on 9th July 2021.
“This is very serious – as the assessment is ongoing; because assessment is not an event, it is a process, before the government can determine the kind of response they [government] will provide, they must have a credible and dependable data, because that is the nerve-centre of any response when it comes to emergency support,” Dahaba said.
He said the president has already given them three pickups and six motorcycles to facilitate their mobility in determining the extent of destruction of the windstorm. Permanent Secretary (PS) at the Local Government who described the windstorm as “a very unfortunate incident” said as a result of Climate Change, the world is witnessing extreme weather events; like increased temperature, increased storms, unpredictable rainfall among others.
“This is evidence that climate change is a real phenomenon and it highlights the importance of government’s ongoing efforts to mainstream climate change adaptation in our National Disaster Risk Management,” said the PS. In his view, it is unfortunate that the poor and the vulnerable are the ones most affected.
“At a time like this, we are pleading with all stakeholders… we have to mobilise efforts and resources to assist the most vulnerable,” PS added. NDMA Leader Mr Dahaba said they had received the JAS report, this is the weather forecast for the months; July August and September.
However, the windstorm coincided with the development of a response plan to the JAS report. Mr Dahaba said: “We will actually strengthen and intensify our early warning effort because an early warning is to provide people with information. Knowledge is the best tool for early warning and we will make sure we strengthen that aspect.”
Wednesday’s storm was a very rare one in The Gambia. According to NDMA Executive Director, Mr Dahaba it was the heaviest wind storm the Gambia experienced in five years. The storm hit the whole country and destroyed buildings including the roof of the Ministry of Interior.
All the regions have registered some degree of destruction, but North Bank Region was said to have been the worst hit, after registering nine deaths.