By Lamin Fatty in URR The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), with support from the World Food Programme (WFP), recently concluded a week-long training workshop to develop the regional contingency plan for humanitarian assistance for the Upper River Region (URR). It is stated that the objective of the contingency planning, among others, is to reduce the adverse effects of anticipated disaster on the affected population and also to reduce the maximum extent of possible adverse impacts of anticipated disaster. Speaking at the opening of the week-long training, Mr. Serigne Modou Joof, the deputy Director of NDMA, noted that the development of the contingency plan is crucial in enhancing humanitarian works as it will help the regions to mobilize resources and better plan for the prevention and mitigation of disaster. He thanked the WFP for their support in complementing the efforts of NDMA in assisting the regions to come up with a comprehensive contingency plan to enhance disaster response. The NDMA deputy director noted that building the capacity of stakeholders on contingency planning and early warning systems would help the communities to identify hazards, gaps and by extension adopt best practices to avert the occurrence of disaster. “The contingency planning document will go a long way in complementing the efforts of communities towards disaster preparedness and mitigation”, he said. Mr. Joof urged the stakeholders to take ownership of the document as it is crucially important for them to prepare and mobilize resources at the regional level. The NDMA deputy director stressed that the contingency planning document will go a long way in contributing effectively towards economic growth. He said the document will also be used as a measure to link it to donors, adding that everybody has a stake in it. For his part, Mr. Francis Abanzi, the head of Programme at the WFP office, noted the significance of the document and called for the active participation of stakeholders to ensure the realization of their aims and objectives. The WFP official lauded the stakeholders and partners for the humanitarian work they are doing in URR and towards the development of the regional contingency plan for humanitarian assistance and which, he added, will help in the preparation of the national contingency plan to enhance humanitarian assistance. He said the involvement and participation of stakeholders will help the region to take ownership of the document and mobilize resources. He noted that as the Gambia is in the Sahel region and have been experiencing many disasters, it is therefore important to have a very comprehensive document that will help in preparing for disaster mitigation. “Most of the disasters identified in the region are drought, flood, disaster outbreak and bush fire, but this does not mean that others are not also monitored”, remarked Mr. Abanzi. He disclosed that WFP will help NDMA to go further in its advocacy and sensitization work at both the village and district levels. Mawdo Amadou Jallow, the Regional Disaster Management Coordinator for URR, also elaborated on the importance of the document. The UNDP, NDMA Disaster Risk Reduction specialist, Bibhuti Bhusan Gadanayak, commended the stakeholders for coming up with such an important document. He said the Gambia is prone to different types of national hazards and has experienced several major disasters in recent years. He concluded that the document will help in reducing the suffering of communities affected by disaster.  ]]>