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The Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), a University of Hawaiʻi applied science and research center based in Maui, hosted an exchange with disaster management experts from the country of Ghana, representing the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), April 8–12.

The exchange was part of an ongoing collaboration between PDC and Ghana on its National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment. With increasing impacts from extreme rains and fires on the horizon for both Maui and Ghana, addressing the elements that make communities more vulnerable and less resilient, and learning from collective experiences, was a focus for all stakeholders.

The Director General of Ghana’s NADMO Eric Nana Agyemang-Prempeh opened the exchange by saying,

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“Climate change exposed the country to prolonged rainfall which led to [Ghana’s Akosombo] dam spillage in 2023. Over 80,000 individuals were affected due to the overflow of river bodies upstream and the impact of the dam spillage. The affected population includes different demography of vulnerable groups including persons with special needs.”

Agyemang-Prempeh emphasized that the technical exchange between PDC and NADMO promised immense benefit to other disaster management institutions throughout the entire subregion of West Africa. “Ghana’s capacity over the years has been of mutual benefit to all neighboring countries, most notably through training exchange programs, relief support, and response operations.”

PDC’s Executive Director Ray Shirkhodai expressed the importance of collaboration in building the capacity of communities to cope with climate change and extreme hazards globally.

“The increase in frequency and severity of climate-related disasters underscores the need for improved risk assessments, advanced early warning systems, and partnership-based resilience efforts worldwide.”

Sharing challenges and successes

The weeklong engagement included a review and collaboration on preliminary final results from Ghana’s National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment. The two parties helped identify and update the nation’s disaster risk profile, vulnerabilities and unique coping capacities.

4 people in front of a firefighter truck.

The delegation from Ghana and PDC also visited the Maui County Fire Department for a briefing on the recent Maui wildfire disaster and the unique firefighting apparatus available in Maui. During a recent visit to Ghana, PDC was able to meet with the Ghana Fire Administration.

“Exchanges among diverse stakeholders like PDC, Ghana, and the Maui Fire Department are remarkable as they help forge new and innovative strategies for managing risks associated with different types of hazards in different environments. This includes sharing and optimization of limited resources, fortification of response operations, and improved planning for resilience to the hazards that inevitably lie ahead,” said UH President David Lassner who lauded the shared commitment to disaster risk reduction.

“On our current trajectory, every place on Earth will be impacted by climate change. So the work PDC is doing to build strong partnership networks and support risk-informed decision making backed by reliable data is more important now than ever.”

Read more at the PDC website.

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