MAPUTO, Mozambique, July 30, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Government of Mozambique in partnership with the United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM) Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP), successfully concluded day one of the Cabinet Simulation Exercise on Disaster Preparedness and Response in Maputo, 28 July 2014.
More than 140 representatives of Mozambique’s government, military, national media, African partner nations and international organizations gathered at the Radisson Blu, Maputo to unveil Mozambique’s National Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan along with the Military Support to Civil Authorities Disaster Contingency Plan.
Senior officials attending the event included, Alberto Vaquina, Prime Minister of Mozambique; Jose Tsambe, Deputy Minister of State Administration; Agostinho Mondlane, Minister of National Defense; Joao Ribeiro, Director General, National Institute of Disaster Management; Mark Cassayre, Charge d’ Affaires, U.S Embassy Maputo; and Michael Hryshchyshyn, Chief, Humanitarian and Health Activities, USAFRICOM.
Prime Minister Vaquina presided over the unveiling of the plans. The ceremony marked the commencement of a five day event that includes a tabletop exercise and a review of Mozambique’s Disaster Management Strategic Work Plan (DMSWP) for defining future capacity and capability building activities. “Mozambique is a country that by its geographic location is vulnerable to natural disasters.” remarked Prime Minister Vaquina. He further noted “the simulation exercise this week will contribute to prevention measures that are being adopted by our country in order to respond to emergency situations that have affected our communities.”
In his opening remarks, Charge d’ Affaires Cassayre stated “today’s program will fine tune the work that has already been completed on these plans, while, at the same time, creating an opportunity for senior and mid-level civilian and military leaders to enhance their knowledge in disaster management and pandemic preparedness while strengthening civil-military disaster response coordination,”
The week-long exercise is structured to clarify the roles and responsibilities of civil and military authorities to respond to large-scale disasters. It also allows the Government of Mozambique to identify disaster management strengths, weaknesses and gaps. Participants will be grouped into five teams representing the National Emergency Operations Center (CENOE), Information and Planning, Communications, Infrastructure and Social Sectors.
“This simulation event is going to facilitate interaction and identify the sectors we need to focus on in the event of a natural disaster,” stated Director General Ribeiro. He also noted that holding a simulation activity is a way to “prepare to implement an appropriate response.”
Subject matter experts from African Partner Nations including, Benin, Liberia, Nigeria, Togo, Tanzania (Zanzibar) and Uganda are participating in the exercise as facilitators. Ultimately, the goal is to increase the collaboration of African nations to better respond to disasters.
“This event will assist you 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 situations.” Hryshchyshyn further stated that it is critically necessary for African Partner Nations to collaborate closely with neighboring countries, as many times these challenges know no borders.
The USAFRICOM DPP supports African 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.