Botswana disaster office buys airboats

The Botswana National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has procured two airboats at a cost of P1.6 million as part of their disaster preparedness measures.

Director of NDMO, Moagi Baleseng, said at a press briefing in Gaborone yesterday that the two airboats, bought from Airboat Afrika, are expected to arrive in the country at the end of this month. The cost is for both airboats, and it includes their trailers and shipping costs to Botswana.

Airboats are flat-bottomed boats that are powered by an aircraft engine and propeller. The engine, prop and seats are mounted high on the boat to raise the center of gravity so that the boat will skim over the surface rather than having to push it’s way through the water. Baleseng said yesterday that the airboats will be useful to during both flood and shallow water rescue operations. Baleseng also revealed that in the last financial year they have spent close to P8.6 million on disaster mitigation projects around the country.

Over P2 million of that amount was spent in Chobe on the rehabilitation of a road in Kachikau. Other preparedness measures the disaster management office has undertaken include rehabilitation of roads, culverts, improvements of embarkments at a water treatment plant in Sepopa. The NDMO has also reconstructed damaged residential structures through the National Disaster Relief Fund and worked on a draft National Flood and Storm Framework through the assistance of disaster management offices at district level, Baleseng said.

International Disaster Reduction Day

He was speaking at a press briefing in Gaborone before the commemoration of International Disaster Reduction Day scheduled for October 19th, in Shakawe. The Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Mokgweetsi Masisi, is expected to officiate at the event, whose main objective is to raise awareness about disasters around the country and the globe. This year's event, to be held under the theme, "Women and girls - the invisible force of resilience," will also recognise and celebrate the contribution women and girls make before, during and after disasters.

Baleseng said Shakawe was chosen as the venue for the commemoration because it is one of the areas in the countries that is prone to disasters, particularly flooding. Before the commemoration in Shakawe, the NDMO will also hold a National Preparedness Workshop on October 17, at Maun, at which 120 delegates are expected to attend. The focus at the workshop will be on observing the 2012/2013 seasonal rainfall information to update national contingency plans. Attention will also be paid to simulation of disaster rescue operations to test district-level preparedness and contingency plans. Baleseng said participants are also expected to draw lessons from last year's disasters.

The National Preparedness Workshop will be attended by international partners, such as delegates from the International Organisation for Migration and Southern African Development Community Disaster Risk Reduction Unit, who will have an opportunity to give advice on disaster preparedness.

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