By Lansana Fofanah.
In the midst of climate change, security and health issues, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has moved for the establishment of a National Centre for the Coordination of Early Warning and Response Center in Sierra Leone as a proactive measure to address regional challenges in responding to such problems.
Visiting the country together with his delegation, The Director of Regional Early Warning Center of ECOWAS, Dr. Gueye Abdou Lat met with the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Alie Kabba, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs Madam Baindu Dasama and held fruitful discussions partaining to the creation of the early warning center.
Addressing journalists at the Ministry of Planning at Tower Hill, Freetown, Dr. Lat said they were in the country to inform the government about the ongoing developments in the ECOWAS Early Warning Mechanism, which emerged from the adoption of the system at country level by Heads of State and Government during their 45th Ordinary Session held in Accra on 14 July 2014; to highlight governments’ responsibility and role in the effective set up of structures, and the US Government and other ECOWAS partners ‘proposed support for the realization of the project”.
He informed newsmen that Germany has also promised to fund the building project as a sign of commitment towards the project.
Dr. Lat observed that there is an increasingly significant gap between warning and response which has to be addressed.
“Indeed, most of the crises that have gripped our region had shown signs that we had clearly figured out, though no effective intervention immediately followed that would have hindered the open conflicts our Member States have had to deal with. Our peace and security architecture appear weak at some of those level, especially when it concerns low level conflict and such emerging threats beside armed conflict and major political crisis. We witnessed the sad periods of EBOLA and other pandemics declaring here and there around the region, the consistent food crisis in the Sahel especially, recurrent flooding, and not to mention the number one cause of death certainly, road accident. On this point, it seems necessary to work towards a systematic interrelation between the national, regional and continental levels for more cohesive interventions,” he says.
Dr. Lat noted that the aim of this initiative is to have a National Response Mechanism Coordination Centre in each of the 15 Member States (owned and completely under the authority of the State). A Centre that will have the mandate to alert Government of potential threats on populations, propose appropriate responses to the threats identified, in turn identify response structures (both at the level of the State, civil society, communities, development partners, etc.), facilitate, coordinate, and monitor the implementation of response related activities and to also recruit five field supervisors per country including a civil society representative.
Dilating on the responsibilities of the ECOWAS, Dr. Lat says the Regional Centre of Early Warning of ECOWAS would accompany the task force on the process of creating the centre and beyond, it shall provide technical, analytical and to some extent, operational support.
The full equipping of the centre with respect to office furniture, ICT infrastructure (computers, scanners, printers, photocopiers, etc.), vehicles, VSAT Communication System and more importantly, state of the art video-conferencing facility to enable the linkage of Sierra Leone with the Regional Centre and all other Member States Centres and the continuous training/upgrading of staff of the center.