South Africa — The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs will start implementing international methods such as the recruiting of disaster management volunteers to assist during the aftermath of disasters.
Since there has been an increase in the number of natural and man made disasters in the province, the department was mandated by Cabinet to conduct international disaster management study tours in various countries to learn best practices in dealing with disasters.
This follows the recent fire and storm disasters which ravaged through the province between June and August this year.
MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu said the places visited were Florida, New Orleans in the United States, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia.
These countries, he said, were identified because they offered lessons covering various types of disasters ranging from cyclones, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, veld-fires and severe flooding.
Members of the department recently visited disaster sites in the countries and interacted with experts from the various institutions.
Following the department’s visit to Australia, they come up with some recommendations that were formulated and have been proposed for possible auctioning in KwaZulu-Natal.
This included commencing with a drive to recruit disaster management volunteers using certain aspects of the Australian fire volunteers’ model.
The department has also recommended an exchange programme for fire fighters where 22 people would be identified, two from each district in the province who will undergo a three month training programme in Australia.
The province will also develop a protocol or operational standard procedure that would guide the rollout of the flood early warning system particularly in the areas that were prone to flooding.
This will be part of the scoping exercise on the parameters on the possible rollout of the Flood Wise System that helps in the detection of floods early as seen in Brisbane.
The department said the Flood Wise System will first be piloted at the Mnambithi and uMzimkhulu municipalities’ respectively.
The MEC said his department has learnt a lot from the international tours and will be sharing their knowledge and skills with other provinces to ensure that South Africa is well prepared for any natural disaster ahead of 2010.
“With the 2010 Soccer World Cup around the corner, the importance of being prepared for any kind of disaster cannot be over emphasised.”