Mbankolo, a municipality in the Centre Region and about 25km southwest of Yaounde, witnessed a devastating landslide after a heavy downpour on Sunday October 8, 2023.
The heartbreaking disaster claimed over 30 lives, several others injuried and multiple others receiving medical treatment.
But reports of victims being stranded after losing their houses and other property to the disaster has caused as to the Cameroon government’s inefficient handling of disasters and crisis
Although Atanga Nji Paul, Minister of Territorial Administration, and Celestines Courtes Ketcha, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, visited the scene to evaluate the situation and offer support to those affected, disaster victims has raised alarm that they’re yet to get full government support or where to lay their heads
The ministers, according to reports, promised the victims the government was going to find a way to get them at least shelters to lay their heads.
But despite all the promises, the homeless victims are yet to be provided an alternative shelter.
They were rather given mattresses, blankets, soap, buckets, cooking oil, rice, and other basic items to survive the devastating incident that made them homeless.
Many of these victims and survivors expressed frustration over their plight of not having where to lay their heads.
“How are they going to utilize the materials when they have no roof over their head to shelter them at the moment?”
Minister Atanga Nji had earlier stated after the landslide, that victims and survivors move out of the area to avoid more casualties. To that effect, demolition works commenced on Sunday October 8, 2023.
“They don’t have where to sleep, you offer them mattress. Get a hotel, or set up a camp, set up tents where they can put your mattresses to use,” said Francis Zeufac, (who is he? A critic?)
Another Karlos Nde stated: “Where are they going to sleep with that mattress?
They would have given them free accommodation, three square meals for a minimum of 1 year. When they pick up with life the government now can leave them alone.”
But the Cameroon government’s feeble mode of reacting to disasters in the country has been criticised over the years
Unfulfilled promises to Buea after two dead
Early this year, on March 18 when floods ravaged through the town of Buea, killing at least two people leaving over 200 families homeless, a demolition exercise was carried out to prevent a recurrence of the disaster which left several victims without shelter.
Despite the visits of Ministers Atanga Nji and Nalova Lyonga to the scene, the homeless victims were never provided with shelter nor given an alternative. Inhabitants said they were just finding their feet admits the promises
Promises to Limbe after 5 die
In a similar manner, when a landslide occurred in July this year at Cassava Farms Limbe, news broke that at least five lives were lost and numerous casualties were recorded.
In the government’s usual style of sending ministers to make promises, Minister Nalova Lyonga, once again appeared at the scene, donated money for relief materials without relaying government measures to provide a roof for the families that became homeless.
Absence of a disaster management strategy
Over the years, these series of incidents have proven that the government of Cameroon is more reactive than proactive in its approach to disasters.
Cameroon has witnessed multiple disasters including landslides, floods, collapse of buildings that has caused a loss of numerous lives and left hundreds homeless but there’s either no proactive strategy nor is there a plan to aid successfully aid disaster victims in times of need
According to a 2019 report by the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, the disaster management system in Cameroon is considered inadequate and weak.
According to the research, this weakness stems from the system’s “more emphasis on disaster response than on risk prevention and mitigation.”
In nations such as the United States of America, national humanitarian response and disaster management are coordinated by a separate organisation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the organisation in charge of guaranteeing the whole security and welfare of individuals affected by natural disasters in the USA.
Transportation, communications, firefighting, information and planning, mass care, emergency assistance, temporary housing, human services, logistics, and public health and medical services are among the functions that the structure assumes responsibility for during an emergency.
Lack of a national disaster management organisation is arguably one of the main obstacles to Cameroon’s inability to respond appropriately to disasters.
It is clear that the government needs a more proactive strategy and a restructuring of its strategy pre and post natural disasters.
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