• May 29th, 2020

Managing disasters: Lessons from China

Paulina N. Moses

The people of Namibia and China have one thing in common; their welcoming nature. 
Safe to say, since our arrival in China, we have felt right at home.

Our mission to this country was to attend the 2018 Disaster Management Seminar for Namibia.
Disaster management, as defined by the International Federation of  Red Cross (IFRC), “is the organisation and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, in particular preparedness, response and recovery in order to lessen the impact of disasters.”

For the past 14 days, we have had extensive mental stimulation in the form of lectures and field visits.
The boardroom lectures served as a refresher course, whilst the field visits proved how a dedicated work force can transform policies into a reality.

Our trip to Shandong Province started in Jinan city. Because this part of China was said to have been under German occupation (just like Namibia) around 1897, some of the buildings resembled those found in certain parts of Namibia, particularly in our coastal towns of Swakopmund and Lüderitz. 

The operations at the Red Cross Centre of the Qidong community is highly commendable. The volunteers keep the centre running and that is the true definition of humanity.

We have similar operations in Namibia, in the form of community units. Our volunteers, specifically those in Oshikoto Region, host meetings under trees. One important agenda point during their meetings is collecting money amongst themselves to buy items like soap, which they use to wash clothes of the elderly or bathe the disabled.
Despite the fact that we have no structures in the form of buildings as compared to Qidong, our volunteers are second to none. 

While in Jinan, we also visited the Shandong Meteorological  Station. Weather predictions are highly imperative in disaster management preparedness, especially for regions that are susceptible to disasters caused by nature. 

In 2001, our two governments established the China Telemetry, Tracking and Command Station for the China Manned Space Programme. The purpose of the station is to manage and control the entry procedure of the China-manned spacecraft. It is envisioned that in the process, Namibia will develop its own space science and technology capacity. as well as have trained personnel.

Qufu city’s Red Cross clinic is notable. Compared to Namibia, the Ministry of Health and Social Services conducts community outreach to reach communities in our rural areas, and of course with the assistance of Red Cross volunteers.
Namibia recently experienced an oil spill on our west coast. Through collaborative efforts, the National Marine Pollution Contingency Plan Operations team responded and effectively cleaned up the affected beach area. 

In 2011, it was reported that Shandong province suffered from an oil spill the size of Paris. 
Oil spills cause a huge economic loss to the tourism and fishing industry. The pollution is also a great health risk to the affected community.

Oil spill response could be a future area of interest and investment for the International Federation of Red Cross.
We have listened, accessed and compared in an effort to learn, re-learn and unlearn - or to be simply inspired. And I could be certain that a majority of us are inspired by the Chinese Red Cross Society. 

Most notably, the dedication from the government and of course the employees and volunteers who are entrusted to run the programmes. We will surely emulate the successes and use the solutions to our challenges to better our disaster management system back home.

While in Qufu, we were honoured to visit the Confucius Temple, and it is thus only fitting to borrow from his revered wisdom.  

I quote: “The superior man makes demands upon himself, a small man makes demands upon others.”
Confucius also said: “The superior man is ashamed to speak more and do less.”

New Era Reporter
2018-11-28 11:00:13 | 1 years ago

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