IT was fanfare in Dodoma City on Thursday, when World Food Programme (WFP), the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organisation focusing on hunger and food security donated some 102m/- Information Technology (IT) equipment to the Prime Minister’s Office for strengthening control and disaster management activities in the country.
Renowned for providing life-saving support to people at risk of going hungry, and coordinating the response of the global humanitarian community to large-scale emergencies, this time again its Tanzania Head Office has demonstrated how it has been a long-term development partner of the Prime Minister’s Office and the government in general in carrying out various philanthropic activities in the country.
Taking to the stage, it donated communication equipment of Internet (teleconferencing equipment) for meetings as well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (known as Drones), all worth Tanzanian shillings 102,741,400/- to the ministry that is tasked to control, supervise and execute day to-day functions and affairs of the government.
Handing over the items, Sarah Gordon-Gibson, Country Director and Representative of the United Nations World Food Programme to Dr John Jingu, Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister – Policy, Parliament and Coordination in a ceremony that was graced by the minister, Mr George Simbachawene, in the docket said her team would still be ready and critical in providing support during disasters that tend to create injuries, destroy lives and infrastructure causing food and nutrition insecurity to the already vulnerable population notably women, children and adolescent in the country.
In response, Dr Jingu thanked the organisation for the assistance citing them as important tools in strengthening communication through the Internet, saying: “As you can see, the facilities for online meetings are already fixed in this Conference Hall here at the Prime Minister’s Office, Posta Street – Ngome in Dodoma.
Today, they have here handed us two drones that are worth USD 25,000 (equivalent to 58, 580,000/-) to be used for surveillance of hazards in areas prone to disasters particularly floods and cyclones.
WFP also handed over IT equipment (three Laptops, an 85-inch smart Samsung TV, Logitech Larry Conference facility and three Cisco wireless equipment) worth USD 19,036 (equivalent to 44,198,950/-) for the purpose of improving the quality of teleconferencing between and among government and its partners.
The overall IT equipment handed over is worth USD 44,266 equivalent to 102,778,950/-. In early June this year, WFP coordinated a training session to Government officials from the Department of Disaster Management (DMD) Dodoma and Dar es Salaam offices to impart knowledge and skills on becoming certified drone pilots.
These facilities are important considering the main responsibility of the Office which is coordination of government activities. This coordination involves the sector and Government and non-Government institutions through meetings and discussions which are an important part and sometimes have to use the internet.
Second, these facilities will help strengthen the participation of stakeholders who cannot travel to Dodoma.
Third, in addition, these devices will reduce the costs of face-to-face meetings, including money and travel time, which will be used to carry out other development tasks. Fourth, they will help to reduce chances of people crowding in a meeting that could trigger the infection of Covid-19.
Generally, we are grateful to receive three drones that will enable the Office to carry out disaster management activities, especially in taking aerial photographs to obtain quick information and the real situation of the affected area, to conduct search and rescue operations, to obtain maps of the existing risks, the possibility of being affected and the epidemic and the capacity of the relevant community.
Equally, let me thank you (WFP) after realising that the experts of the Office have been trained in the use and maintenance of these devices, I can assure you that they will be used for the intended purpose and follow the procedure for maintaining them.
Finally, let me assure you that the Prime Minister’s Office will continue to strengthen the existing cooperation based on the Government’s priorities to strengthen the implementation of development activities and community services, including disaster management and food and nutrition security.”
In their different speeches, Mr Kaspar Mmuya, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister – Policy, Parliament and Coordination and Directors and Heads of Units in the ministry, narrated how WFP has been collaborating with them in implementing disaster management activities in their department, citing some as:
(1) Strengthening the ability to prepare and respond to disasters in assessing, analysing and preparing disaster information, risk indicators, vulnerability and the ability to respond to disasters (risk, vulnerability and capacity assessment).
This work has been done in the regions of Mtwara and Lindi where the information obtained has helped to include the issues of reducing the effects of disasters in the council’s development plans as well as being used as baseline information when preparing the Council’s plan to prepare and deal with Disaster in the relevant council.
(2) Organising also facilitates in the preparation of District Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans in the participation process based on the existing administration system.
These works are done in collaboration with an expert from Dodoma University, the Prime Minister’s Office and the relevant Council. The councils involved are those that were seen to have a high risk of suffering from disasters based on the nature of disaster events, especially hurricanes, geography and the activities of the life system in the community.
(3) Planning aimed at classifying disaster management stakeholders in the council and their roles in disaster management. The plans provide instructions for the activities to be carried out by all disaster stakeholders in preventing disasters from occurring, reducing the effects of disasters as well as when dealing with various disasters that will occur in the respective Councils. A total of four councils have been reached.
(4) Participating in an exercise to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the state of food and nutrition in the country, which is held twice a year. In addition, the organisation has contributed money and expertise in an exercise expected to take place at the end of August this year. This is due to the results of the initial assessment of food production by the Ministry of Agriculture showing the existence of food shortages in some areas in the country.
(5) Cooperating with the government in terms of strengthening the operational capacity of Regional and District Disaster Management Committees. This issue has been implemented by providing theory training and doing practical exercises to deal with disasters to ensure there is efficiency in the implementation of their responsibilties.
At the ceremony, it was noted how WFP has been a long partnership with the government and determination to continue strengthening the collaboration.
They also elaborated how they have started implementing the organisation’s new five-year Country Strategic Plan (July 2022 – June 2027) that focuses on refugee operations and development work that includes working with small holder farmers to promote food security and nutrition, social protection and strengthening government systems to prepare and respond to various types of disasters.
Equally, it acknowledged and congratulated the government for efforts and progress made to enhance its emergency preparedness team on the ground, particularly in providing support during disasters that tend to create injuries, destroy lives and infrastructure causing food and nutrition insecurity to the already vulnerable population notably women, children and adolescence.
For instance, WFP has also embarked on the midterm review of the Sendai Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) framework; it sees as yet another important commitment of the government to assess its plans and priorities to invest in preparedness actions which are more cost effective than responding to disasters when they happen.
The results of the Midterm review of the Sendai DRR Framework will help inform another UN-initiated Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI) process of assessing the capacities of the government and other stakeholders to prepare, respond and recover from disasters in Tanzania.
As already mentioned, in the next 5 years under our new CSP, WFP will continue supporting the government to strengthen its systems aimed at reducing the impact of hazards most of which are associated with climate change.
WFP is currently working closely with the Prime Minister’s Office Department of Disaster Management (PMO – DMD) to develop Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans (EPRPs) for Tandahimba and Masasi districts in Mtwara region and Ruangwa and Kilwa districts in Lindi region.
It is also working with the Disaster Management Commission (DMC) in the Second Vice President Office in Zanzibar. WFP’s focus in Zanzibar is to provide on developing guidelines on streamlining DRR in the District Development plans and budgets to ensure sustainability of the activities through government financing.