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Move from disaster response to risk reduction

- Kemantha Govender

The Wits School of Governance teamed up with the Gauteng Provincial Disaster Management Centre to explore disaster risk reduction.

This was the second Provincial Lecture in the series to further understand the complex interconnectedness between risk and resilience, as well as examine opportunities for risk reduction through climate change adaptation.

The lecture also provided the platform for the launch of the research report and mainstreaming framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) for the Gauteng province.

In his opening remarks, Professor Pundy Pillay said the first lecture took place in 2017, and was a resounding success, leading to new thinking, partnerships, and collaborative research projects.

The School has been involved in valued partnerships with disaster management centres in South Africa since 2009, collaborating on projects such as the humanitarian assistance certificates and simulation programmes, xenophobia roundtables and Ebola emergency preparedness workshops.

“The WSG is proud to be partnering on the Annual Provincial Lecture Series, engaging in crucial cross-cutting issues to tackle the complex, wicked problems facing society, and creating a platform to communicate key issues, challenge entrenched positions, and find creative, innovative ways forward.

“Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change in policy and programming is a key element in reducing vulnerability, and ensuring the cycle of disasters and underdevelopment can be interrupted and reversed,” said Pillay.

The Deputy Director General of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Itumelang Mokate, in her keynote address, said that the evidence is clear and that we can no longer assume that climatic patterns will remain consistent over the coming decades.

“The impacts of a changing climate will stretch beyond the impacts of extreme events. Considering the socio-economic and environmental challenges currently faced by Gauteng, increasing costs associated with the projected climate change impacts will further challenge growth and development goals” said Mokate.

Mbassa said that despite progress, barriers and challenges still exist such as the need for advanced early warning systems, effective monitoring of the frequency and severity of events, a shift in focus from disaster response to risk reduction, and ecologically appropriate land use and land use plans.