The Uganda Red Cross Society has launched the World Disaster Report, focusing on the theme “Trust, Equity, and Local Action.” Published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the report delved into the vital role of local action in disaster risk reduction and management, drawing lessons from the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
In an event that was at the President’s conference hall – office of the Prime Minister, the report emphasized that preparedness must start at the grassroots level, with community action serving as the cornerstone for effective hazard response. Local actors, including community members and organizations, possess invaluable knowledge and understanding of their communities’ needs and vulnerabilities. By working closely with these communities, responders can identify their wants, needs, and concerns, fostering trust and facilitating the adoption of health measures.
Mr. Robert Kwesiga, the URCS Secretary General, called upon all stakeholders to bridge the funding gap for disaster risk reduction, stressing that it is a shared responsibility and not the burden of a single entity. “Be it; developing partners, international organizations, Government and the private sector to support and rally finances towards disaster risk preparedness and response because this is everyone’s responsibility. I however affirm to everyone that as a National Society we’re committed to being proactive and making a difference towards timely disaster response.” Mr. Kwesiga said. Dr. Halid Kirunda, Chairman of the URCS Central Governing Board, emphasized the collective responsibility of individuals in preventing the next crisis.
“We all have a role to play in this, and one way to contribute is to prepare more effectively. It’s important for us to prioritize equity, trust and local action as they are key factors in driving change. Let’s all come together and make a difference.” Dr. Kirunda highlighted. Leading up to the main event on May 31, the Uganda Red Cross Society organized a series of activities across its 51 branches. These events aimed to raise awareness, engage communities, and foster a sense of preparedness and resilience.
Dr. Laban Musinguzi from Makerere University, representing the Chairperson of the National Planning Authority, emphasized how Uganda and the world had been ill-prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. He stressed the need for collective local action by stakeholders, nations, and humanitarian organizations to prevent and combat future global crises effectively.
The Minister for Health Jane Ruth Aceng, speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, warmly welcomed the report and commended the Uganda Red Cross Society for their swift response to disasters. She stressed the urgent need to invest in preparedness interventions, empowering communities to monitor warning signs and bolster their resilience against future crises.
“The time is now to invest in preparedness interventions, equip communities to monitor warning signs, and be resilient in case of disasters,” stated Nabbanja, reiterating the government’s commitment to working with the URCS to enhance community preparedness. Representing the corporate partners, the Managing Director of EcoBank, Ms. Grace Muliisa, expressed unwavering support for humanitarian organizations like the Uganda Red Cross Society. She emphasized that investing in these organizations was not only a gesture of goodwill but also a commitment to saving lives within the communities they serve.
Ms. Susan Namondo Ngongi, the United Nations’ representative and coordinator in Uganda, reiterated the significance of local action and early preparedness in disaster risk management. She emphasized the need to be proactive in preventing, responding to, and recovering from disasters, all while capturing crucial lessons for the future.
The Uganda Red Cross Society utilized the half-day event to also showcase the valuable lessons learned from the recently concluded Ebola response, further reinforcing the importance of local action and preparedness in the face of emergencies.
As the event concluded, participants departed with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to building resilience. Trust, equity, and local action emerged as the driving forces behind effective disaster risk reduction and management, empowering communities to face future challenges head-on. With the spirit of collaboration and shared responsibility, Uganda and the world were better equipped to navigate an uncertain future and safeguard the well-being of their people.