VP Njie-Saidy inaugurates NDTAG

Friday, March 20, 2009
The vice president and secretary of state for Women’s Affairs, Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy, who chairs the National Disaster Management and Prevention Council, Wednesday afternoon, presided over the official inauguration of the National Disaster Technical Advisory Group (NDTAG) at her office at State House.

The Group will replace the former National Disaster Management Committee. In her inaugural statement, Vice  President Njie-Saidy said the inauguration of the group is in accordance with Section 16 of the National Disaster Management Act 2008. She told the Technical Advisory Group members that their role is important and critical as they have been carefully identified based on their technical expertise.

"Your role is important and the Act has placed a legal responsibility on your shoulders to facilitate the implementation of the policy and Act to the letter," she said. The vice president further stressed that the Group, with its broad and diverse membership, reflects the cross cutting and multi-disciplinary nature of disaster management. She added that it is born out of the national technical committee headed by the permanent secretary, Office of the President.

The group, she said, can co-opt other members when necessary. She reiterated that the UN agencies are not necessarily formal members of the group but their inclusion as ex-officio members is a clear indication of the important role of the UN systems in supporting national activities through a government-led process. Vice President Njie-Saidy then used the occasion to express the leadership and supportive role of President Jammeh in all the works of the National Disaster Management and Prevention Council, noting the fact that the Gambian leader is fully cognisant of the importance of the Council.

She then urged the group members to work togehter effectively to address disaster problems, reminding them that they should not wait to address problems after they have already occurred.

Momodou Kotu Cham, secretary of state for Forestry and Environment, promised the Group that they will be sufficiently empowered by the government in the execution of their duties. He observed that disaster management is not in the domain of any department of state and therefore it is incumbent upon everyone to contribute.

Musa Gibril Bala Gaye, secretary of state for Finance and Economic Affairs, also reiterated the need for the group to work effectively together. He revealed that the government has already budgeted for disaster management activities, and expressed hope that donors will also come in to assist. The incoming chairperson of the group, Fatou Jasseh-Kuyateh, permanent secretary at the Office of the Vice President, promised that they will work extra hard to defend the trust and confidence bestowed on them. Other government officials present at the inauguration included Ismaila Sambou, secretary of state for Local Governments, Lands and Religious Affairs;

Marie Saine-Fridaus, secretary of state for Justice; Ousman Sonko, secretary of state the Interior; and Dr Mariatou Jallow, secretary of state for Health and Social Welfare. Also in attendance were representatives from the UN and UNICEF.
Author: By Amadou Jallow