Ms Maropene Ramokgopa
MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY: PLANNING, MONITORING AND EVALUATION
REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
Private Bag X1000, Pretoria, 0001; Tel: 012 300 5200 / 021 464 2100
MS. MAROPENE RAMOKGOPA
MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENCY FOR PLANNING, MONITORING AND EVALUATION
OPENING ADDRESS ON THE OCCASION OF
INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE SERIES ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
17 APRIL 2023, 07:30 – 08:00
Facilitator, Professor Magidimisha from the National Planning Commission,
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Honourable Thembi Nkadimeng,
Representatives of Embassies and High Commissions of countries presenting today, namely Bangladesh, Germany, India, Japan and Mozambique,
Representatives of host partner organisations, the National Planning Commission (NPC), the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
Representatives of multilateral bodies and development partners, namely, Southern African Development Community, BRICS, European Union, and GIZ,
Directors-General in attendance,
Good day Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to officially welcome you all to the International Dialogue Session on Disaster Management Systems.
The session is convened by the South African government in partnership with the National Planning Commission (NPC), the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The dialogue session seeks to create a platform for engagement and exchange on international practices, whilst elevating global solidarity to strengthen disaster management systems and promote disaster risk reduction.
In recent decades we have witnessed a steady increase in disasters of many forms across the world.
By their very nature, when a disaster occurs, it is followed by a considerable manifestation of destruction. This includes loss of property, damage to infrastructure and the environment, disruption to social and economic processes in communities, outbreak of public health emergencies, and ultimately the loss of life.
Therefore, South Africa aligns itself with the global goals of shifting the focus from response towards disaster risk reduction.
When we are better prepared in anticipation of known disasters, we are able to mitigate the severity of impact on livelihoods. In addition, through better preparation, we are able to manage the recovery process which is often slow and requires careful planning and funding for future risks.
Disasters have a tendency to reverse developmental gains, and for South Africa, we have not been spared from this.
In recent years we have observed significant setbacks on the progress made in improving the livelihoods of our citizens as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the recent flood disasters in parts of KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape and North West, as well as wildfires in parts of the Western Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Northern Cape, amongst others.
According to recent authoritative publications by the United Nations' 2022 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, and the World Economic Forum's 2023 Global Risk Report, both publications highlight an increase in frequency and intensity of disasters.
The impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic for instance, has created urgency and the need for global coordination, resource mobilization with equitable distribution, and the protection of fundamental human rights in the development of disaster management systems.
Accordingly, this dialogue must be catalytic in facilitating an exchange of lessons and best practices to help improve domestic, regional and international disaster management systems.
Through this platform, we intend to expand our collective knowledge about what works in the modern era for a successful disaster management system. Furthermore, we anticipate the outcomes of this dialogue to inform the review process of the current disaster management systems in South Africa.
Nonetheless, we welcome and acknowledge the guidance provided by international frameworks such as the Sendai Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
However, the implementation of these frameworks through localization teaches us that different contexts influence the efficacy in which these frameworks are applied, and the nature of the results achieved across different countries.
Therefore, specific challenges may be similar across groupings of countries with respect to disasters.
This is due to factors such as geographical proximity, climate change vulnerability, challenges of poverty and inequality, population density and health profiles, urbanisation patterns and land management practices.
As a result, some challenges require global approaches with an appreciation of the different local contexts, and the design of relevant implementation strategies.
The dialogue session must prioritize strengthening partnerships and collaborative work to ensure the overarching aim of disaster management is achieved. This includes minimizing the chances of preventable disasters, and the extent of the damage, to guard the health of the people and save lives, and to facilitate a process of reconstruction and recovery.
Most importantly, the session must aim to capacitate and educate our respective governments, key constituencies including the civil society, the private sector, communities of practice, and engagement with society at large on disaster management. In the words of American meteorologist Max Mayfield;
“Preparation through education is less costly, than learning through tragedy."
We can no longer remain oblivious to climate change and its influence on disasters. We all need to be equipped, informed and ready to play our role in mitigating the impact of disasters.
I thank you and wish you all the best in your deliberations during this dialogue session.