Southern African emergency ops centre a step closer

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Establishment of a humanitarian and emergency operations centre for the southern African region is a step closer with a tenth country committing to its operationalisation.

Earlier this month Botswana became the tenth Southern African Development Community (SADC) member to sign an inter-governmental memorandum of agreement (MoA) for the establishment of a regional humanitarian and emergency operations centre (SHOC). Botswana’s commitment brings the MOA closer to becoming operational, as two thirds of SADC’s 16 member states are needed to sign for its coming into force.

The SHOC in Mozambique’s Nampula province will be responsible for, among others, co-ordinating regional disaster risk preparedness, response and early recovery efforts to support member countries affected by disasters. It, according to a SADC statement, is crucial in managing supply of equipment and supplies needed by SADC responders during humanitarian deployments.

The SHOC was established as an autonomous, self-accounting SADC organisation with the MoA establishing it and providing legality for operationalisation.

Kabo Morwaeng, Botswana Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration representing the Botswana government, said it is important to prioritise disaster risk preparedness and response. The region, he said, was faced with catastrophic events, including heavy rain, drought, floods, storms and mudslides resulting in loss of life and property damage.

Operationalisation of the SHOC came to the fore during a SADC Council of Ministers meeting in March last year when “interim activities” were approved. The decision was taken in the light of “increasing frequency and severity of disaster events in the SADC region”.