The Media Association of Puntland (MAP), in collaboration with Free Press Unlimited (FPU), has executed public awareness raising on disaster risk management activities in the town of Gardho, KarKaar region of Somalia’s Puntland State, through the Danwadaag program.
A Townhall meeting on the 8th of October and a media dialogue forum on the 9th of October was respectively held and both aimed at raising public awareness as well as providing early warnings about the feared excessive rains expected to hit flood-prone areas of Somalia (including Gardho town) during the DEYR season, which runs from October to December.
The Townhall was participated by local authorities including the Gardho Mayor Honorable Abdulkadir Saed, officials from the Disaster risk management unit based in Gardho, members of the media and over 50 public audience members giving a platform of interaction between the public and their local representatives.
Speaking at the opening session of the forum, the MAP chair Mohamed Dahir gave an overview of the Townhalls objective, while the honorable Abdulkadir gave a brief on how Gardho town under his leadership has been putting efforts with regards to disaster risk management.
In his speech, the MAP chair said
”MAP agrees with the notion that Citizen engagement empowers individuals, particularly those most excluded, to exercise agency and their voice to mobilize resources and skills to improve their disaster resilience – with that mind – for us through this townhall we aim to provide a platform for the public to directly communicate with their local representatives and see how all parties could better collaborate towards reducing the pain and loss caused by the floods”_ said MAP chair.
Dahir also thanked the DRM unit for accepting MAP’s invitation to participate in the Townhall event, as well as the local authorities headed by the Mayor Abdulkadir who has been open to speaking to his constituents.
On his part the Gardho Mayor gave a lengthy speech that touched several issues with regards to how far his administration has gone with regards to disaster risk management. He also acknowledged the importance of awareness raising and educate the public. He also urged the media to create more public engagement platforms, as they happen to be more educative compared to news stories.
‘’We have a plan in place that includes removing houses along the water canals in the city to allow the free flow of the water. To do that we have successfully negotiated with owners of the house currently built along the canals and infact 90% have accepted our offer.
Continued.. ’’Our do no harm plan aims to solve previously existing problems, while also not creating new problems. The plan will be spearheaded by qualified engineers. Whether implemented now or in the soon future, we will assure quality and transparency in the process’’_ underlined the Gardhi Mayor.
During the Townhall, the discussions was moderated by Abdulkani who gave the platform at first to the panelists to brief the audience on the latest update with the anticipated El-Nino rains and issues surrounding the risk management plan. The panel in the Gardho Townhall was made up of mostly the DRM unit who have the sole responsibility to advice the district authorities on disaster risk management.
On the other side the audience asked questions to the panel members mostly expressing concerns on the delayed implementation of the DRM plans especially the threat and fear of the El-Nino rains.
The media dialogue forum held the next day after the townhall (oct 09) reviewed the action plans put in the Puntland media position paper and brainstormed on new trends and challenges facing the media especially when covering the DRM related news.
Among the main issues highlighted, access to accurate information has been a major issue that continued to hamper reporter’s work in informing the public.
DANWADAAG is intended to increase local government’s ability and create an environment in which they can deliver substantial comprehensive interventions and disaster risk management services. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nairobi is funding DANWADAAG, which will run from January 1, 2021, to March 31, 2025.