Disaster Management Workshop: briefing; Disaster Management Bill: briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

08 October 2001
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 October 2001
DISASTER MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP: BRIEFING; DISASTER MANAGEMENT BILL: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Mr Y Carrim & Mr B M Solo

Documents Handed Out
Disaster Management Bill [B 58 - 2001]
Disaster Management Bill Proposed Amendments (Stage 3)
Disaster Management Course Report by B M Solo (See Appendix)

SUMMARY
The deliberations on the Disaster Management Bill continued. The discussion focussed on problematic areas such as "duties and powers of the National Centre" and "the disaster management information system". The Committee made some amendments.

MINUTES
Briefing by Mr B Solo on Disaster Management Workshop
Mr Solo informed the Committee on the workshop that took place at the University of Cape Town on 27June to the 4 July 2001. The workshop was aimed at achieving an integrated understanding of disaster risk and its implications for sustainable development in Southern Africa, with a specific focus on South Africa. The course conceptualized disaster risk as an outcome of the interplay between human and natural factors. Mr Solo said the course was very informative and it has broadened the understanding of disaster, development planning and vulnerability particularly among poor communities.

For more details in the briefing please refer to attached document

Members of the Committee had no questions regarding the briefing on the disaster management workshop.

Disaster Management Bill Deliberations
Mr I Carrim (ANC) said the Committee asked who is going to administer this Act, is it the office of the Deputy President, the department or should it be left as it is in the Bill. They would be meeting the executive later to discuss this issue and should have the answer shortly. They proceeded with the Bill clause by clause with "Stage 3" amendments.

Mr C Grobler (NNP) announced that there was a train crash near Meyerton station in Gauteng where more than 100 people were injured and nobody was killed. He said because of the cooperation between local authorities and the provincial everything was dealt with swiftly, all the injured were rushed to hospital. He was showing the importance of cooperation in the levels of governance when disaster strikes.

Chapter 1 - Interpretation, Application and Administration of Act
Definitions
Clause 1
"The National Centre forms part of and functions within, a department of state for which the Minister is responsible."
The Department is linked to the Minister on how they deal with policy matters.

Mr Carrim said they agreed on the definition of delegation.

Dr P Bouwer said that delegation as it is explained in clause 14 has been added as "delegation or assignment". Because other delegations refer to organizational delegation.

New Clause
Contents of National Disaster Management Framework
Clause 7(2)
Mr Carrim said the words "place emphasis on measures that reduce the vulnerability of disaster prone areas, communities and households" have been added. This emphasised the need to reduce vulnerability, but he argued that it is generally important, it is not supposed to be in as a subclause. 'Households' has been added because if one looks at communities, different households are vulnerable to different degrees of disasters.

Dr. Holloway stated that people who are most vulnerable to disasters are households of male elderly people. The households who are most vulnerable to dying from fires are those with predominantly men, especially from informal settlements.

Clause 7(k)
" Provide a framework within which organs of state may fund disaster management with specific emphasis on preventing or reducing the risk of disasters, including grants to contribute to post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation and the payment of compensation to victims of disasters and their dependents"

Mr Carrim argued that the payment of compensation to victims of disasters and their dependents imply that the state is responsible for that disaster hence it is giving compensation. He asked the Committee to suggest another word for compensation.

Dr Bouwer said the subject matter of that paragraph is funding. The framework explains how money should be used. The Committee agreed that they would replace 'compensation' with 'payment'.

Dr. A Holloway argued that the word 'victims' should be substituted with "those affected". She argued that the word 'victims' has a very negative and passive connotation.

Mr Carrim agreed that 'victims' should be changed.

Chapter 3 - National Disaster Management
Staff
Clause 13 (3)
"Persons seconded to the National Centre perform their functions of office subject to the control and directions of the Head of the National Centre".

Mr Carrim suggested that the word 'control' should be replaced with 'subject to the directions' of the Head of the National Centre.

Dr Bouwer said Mr Carrim should remember that they are dealing with people who are seconded. It is the Head of the National Centre who is supposed to take charge of the Centre.

Duties and powers of National Centre
General duties and powers
Clause 15(1)(h)
"The National Centre must promote disaster management capacity-building, training and education (including in schools), in the Republic and, to the extent that may be appropriate, in other Southern African states";

Mr J Kgarimetsa (ANC) argued that the words 'education and training' should be removed. He said this is disaster management. He felt that education is something that should be done everyday whereas disaster management training is supposed to take the form of a workshop. It seemed that disaster management training will be part of the syllabus in schools.

Mr A Lyle (ANC) said if one imparts knowledge to a group of people even once it does not change the essence of it, it will remain education.

Mr J Ngubeni (ANC) argued that disaster management would form part of life and survival skills as contextualised in the outcomes based education.

Dr. Holloway added that international experience shows that the best way to create changes especially to poor communities is to integrate disaster related education into the curriculum over a long period of time. This helps to change attitudes and shift behaviors as far as risks are concerned.

Disaster management information system
Clause 17(4)(b)
"Classify parts of the database as restricted areas and limiting access to those parts to persons authorised by the National Centre"
The "Minister" was substituted for the "National Centre".

Ms Borman argued that when a disaster strikes it would be very difficult to follow all these procedures,and would delay matters. She said the National Centre would be an appropriate place in dealing with classified data.

Mr Tutu added that the National Centre is accountable to the Minister and on a practical level, the Centre should classify parts of the database and thereafter account to the Minister when necessary.

Dr Bouwer said that in the "Access to information Act" the information officer, who is essentially the Director-General determines access and entertains requests from the public. This clause is trying to control the access of certain disaster management information from the National Centre to the public.

Gathering of information
Clause 18(1)
"The National Centre may, in writing, request any organ of state or person in possession of information reasonably required by the National Centre for the purpose of section 16 or 17, to provide such information to the National Centre within a reasonable period determined by the National Centre".

Mr F Van Deventer (NNP) asked if there are any measures put in place to deal with state departments who are delaying providing information to the National Centre.

Dr Bouwer replied that this is the reason why they have clause 18(2) that "if an organ of state fails to comply with a request, the National Centre must report the failure to the Minister, who must take such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the request, including reporting the failure to Parliament".

Mr Van Deventer said he is concerned that Parliamentary processes take too long before a decision could be taken maybe in urgent serious matters that need to be resolved as quickly as possible. He suggested that this could rather be referred to the Presidency or the Cabinet.

Dr Bouwer argued that the cabinet itself is a collective, at the top it is the President working with his cabinet members. They determine their own procedures and how they relate to each other and it is not feasible to be prescriptive in this regard. It is the Minister who will take necessary steps to secure compliance with the request. As to how he does that, it is a problem of the cabinet.

Rev A Goosen (ANC) said it is a situation where Parliament puts pressure on the Minister to take necessary action.

Classification and recording of disasters
Clause 23(5)
"A disaster is a provincial disaster if (a) it affects -
more than one metropolitan or district municipality in the same province; "and they are unable to deal with it through their own resources" or
a single metropolitan or district municipality in the province and that metropolitan municipality, or that district municipality with the assistance of the local municipalities within its area, is unable to deal with it effectively; and
(b) the province concerned is able to deal with it effectively."

Mr Carrim asked what happens if the disaster occurs in two districts municipalities and both of them can deal with it together without the interference of the province. He told the Committee that "and they are unable to deal with it through their own resources" should be added.

Dr Bouwer rejected the proposal of Carrim, he argued that if two districts combine in dealing with a disaster later running out of resources, and they have to take extraordinary measures, who will take responsibility? That would create problems in terms of jurisdiction.

Mr L Buys added that there should be a distinction between incidents that can be read as disasters but should not actually be declared disasters. In those instances district municipalities can assist each other in dealing with the problem. But when a state of disaster is declared, the question of primary responsibility is very important.

The meeting was adjourned

Appendix
DISASTER MANAGEMENT COURSE REPORT TO THE PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMET PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE.
B.M SOLO


Background / Introduction
The Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihood Project from the university of Cape Town once attended the Portfolio Committee where it made a presentation on disaster management Subsequent to that and their quality of work around disaster management the Portfolio Committee found it necessary; to work with the university as well as to utilize the skills and knowledge they have.

Later the university informed the Portfolio Committee of a "Disasters and Sustainable Development Course". Given the nature of the course the committee on request agreed to send one person to the course as a way of capacitating the committee in view of the coming legislation on Disaster Management.

This report seek to inform the committee about the course and its contents and highlight those aspects that might be of benefit to the committee.

Course Content and Duration
Course Content

The course was entitled Disaster and Sustainable Development. It include the following:

(1) Understanding of the key concepts on Disaster risk reduction.
(2) A basic understanding of the conceptual framework of Disaster Risk.
(3) Insight into the nature, impact and underlying risk factors for frequently occurring Disasters in South Africa.
(4) Basic understanding of natural hazards particular to South Africa and neighbouring countries.
(5) Understanding of the link between Disasters and Development (Disaster vulnerability, gender, cultural resource management and development planning).

The course also provides skills to analyse Disaster risk using methodologies such as participatory Appraisal, Livelihood Analysis, risk mapping and maximum losses. Of course this include, skills to audit disaster risk reduction resources and capacities on parent organisations, capacity to contextualise disaster risk reduction in South Africa, SADC, and internationally, as well as" Increase Awareness of Disaster risk within parent organisations and communities.

It further aims at achieving an integrated understanding of disaster risk and its implications for sustainable development in Southern Africa, with a specific focus on South Africa. The course conceptualises disaster risk as an outcome of the interplay between Human and Natural factors. It assumes an interdisciplinary perspective in disaster, taking into consideration threats or hazards, as well as Social and Economic forces that influence disaster vulnerability and resilience.

Duration
The course duration was 6 (six) frill days starting at 8h30 in the morning to 16h45 in the afternoon. It was an intensive course during continuous rainy days and very cold winter.

It commenced on the 27th June to the 4th July 2001. Course material and programs were provided on the first day.

INPUTS WERE FROM DIFFERENT PRESENTERS SUCH AS:
1. Christina Nomdo
2. Patrick Kulati
3. Dr.Ailsa Holloway
4. Shanaaz Manhews
5. Risk De Satge
6. Dressor William Bond
7. Sandra Fowkes
8. Dressor Colleen Vogel
9. Dressor Brian Davies
10. Kerryn Mckune
11. Isaac Jacobs
12. Dr David Coetzee
13. Sibusiso Masondo

ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPANT
Different representatives attended the course from various organisations and institutions; the majority of those were from the Cape Town Unicity Disaster Management. Attached as Annexure" A" is a list of the participant.

For the duration of the course, despite heavy rains and cold weather, there was full attendance at all times.

Assessment
The course is relevant and a factor to all Parliamentarians not only those who would be charged with the processing of Disaster Management Bill but all members of Parliament. The course deals with the extent of exposure to disaster that we may not be aware off. It helps to minimise risk particularly in development planning processes.

The amount of information is very useful and can be used effectively during the processing of the. Disaster Management B ill as well. as building capacity of developers and or disaster management practitioners. It is clear accordingly that Disaster occur as an outcome of Natural and Human-induced Processes. A Disaster incident is an event, that exceeds the coping capacity of a community and therefore requires external assistance.

It is increasingly recognised that susceptibility to disaster incidents is as much shaped by social and Economic Factors as it is by climatic or other threats for instance, communities that are economically and Socially resilient are better equipped to withstand the impact of a threat. In contrast, at risk poor community and households in congested peri-urban settlements and isolated rural areas are often least able to project themselves against the recurrent threats of drought, heavy-rains, flooding, epidemic risk and house fires. They face increased risk of death, Injury, illness as well as loss of life, poverty and livelihood.

RECOMMENDATION
Given the quality of the course it is my pleasure to recommend that parliament consider a similar course for MP's particularly those who serve in the following portfolio Committees

1) Provincial and Local government
2) Water and Forest Affairs
3) Environment
4) Health

CONCLUSION
The course was very informative and capacitating. It has actually broaden the understanding of disaster, development planning and vulnerability particularly amongst poor communities. It has raised consciousness and the need to ensure integrated development that would make provisions for risk reduction.

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