The Ghana Red Cross Society [GCRS] has presented assorted relief items to some 42 victims across four communities in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region. The communities included Tindonmologo, Sorkabisi, Tanzui and Zorbisi. These recipients were mostly persons that suffered in the devastating floods in the just-ended 2019 rainy season.
Speaking at a brief ceremony held this Tuesday in Tanzui, Secretary-General of the GRCS, Mr. Samuel Kofi Addo revealed that, funding for the procurement of the relief items came from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund [DREF] at the International Federation in Geneva valued at about 150 thousand Swiss Francs. He mentioned kitchen sets, blankets, hygiene kits, water jerricans and mats among others as the package of items given out per beneficiary.
The Secretary-General apologised to the affected families for the late arrival of the relief items saying per the emergency response protocols of the Red Cross, help should have reached the victims latest within 48 or 72 hours. He explained that resources and some other requisite materials were not readily available for distribution and therefore, called on government, corporate Ghana and other vital stakeholders to immediately help in establishing a Disaster Fund and to adequately resource it to run an effective disaster emergency stocks as a quick and a ready first-response to the needs of victims in times of disasters.
Mr Samuel Addo also noted that, several hundreds of houses were destroyed in the 2019 floods across the Upper East region but that the Red Cross had been able to assist in rebuilding only 100 while it anticipates additional support from donors to scale up the number. He said the Red Cross had signed a pact with the Department of Rural Housing which lends expertise and technical assistance for the reconstruction of houses assuring that from past experiences, the reconstructed houses had stood the test of time.
According to him, the Red Cross does not rush into disaster zones immediately the unfortunate happens. He explained that, his outfit first triggers its standard operating procedures such as mobilising volunteers, training them and dispatching them to the field for data collection on the affected especially, the vulnerable and the severely affected. Based on this he added, is what then gives the Red Cross an informed background to the particular disaster type, the list of victims and damage caused and subsequently, to move to solicit appropriate support.
Giving details about the Upper East situation, Mr Addo revealed that a total of 600 families averaging five to six persons per family, were identified by an assessment team in 32 communities across nine districts. He disclosed that the type of support his outfit was giving to the victims was in three phases: the first being the relief items, the second being a house-to-house hygiene and health education by volunteers whilst the last, will be the reconstruction stage where victims will be aided to rebuild their collapsed houses with funding to be provided by the Swiss Red Cross.
Upper East Regional Manager of the Red Cross, Mr Paul Woomah in his remarks at the Tanzui distribution of the relief items disclosed that, the team was scheduled for a similar engagement with victims in the Yorogor community and its environs. He emphasised that the principle of the Red Cross in distributing relief to beneficiaries was strictly neutral and devoid of political, religious and tribal attachments. He remarked that, what the Red Cross does was “to see the affected as people who were suffering and who needed help to mitigate their suffering”.
Mr Woomah stressed that, the Red Cross was always “methodical and procedural in its approach to issues particularly, disasters” and that, its volunteers were diligently trained and equipped to collect data on the floods and to identify persons who were genuinely affected. He said it was thus based on those records that the relief items were eventually sourced and brought in.
He mentioned the Binduri, Bongo, Kassesna-Nankana Municipal, Kassesna-Nankana West, Bolgatanga Municipal, Garu, the Builsa North and South districts as well as the Nabdam district as those that were hit by the 2019 floods across the Upper East region. He also acknowledged that, it was impossible to reach out to all the affected and to meet their needs satisfactorily and thus appealed to the donor community and corporate entities to come on board with additional assistance.
Municipal Chief Executive for Bolgatanga, Hon. Joseph Atura Amiyuure commended the Red Cross and its partners as well as the National Disaster Management Organisation for effectively teaming together to mobilise support for the flood victims saying, it had come at a good time to augment government’s efforts.