Around 35 specialised British military personnel will arrive in Botswana today to conduct an exercise designed to evaluate and help improve the country’s national disaster preparedness.
“This is the first exercise of its kind that will be conducted by the British army in Botswana,” said Kebatshabile Tsie, the British High Commission spokesperson.
She said the personnel from the Military Stabilisation Support Group (MSSG), which is based in Surrey, just outside London, are all specialists in resilience planning and post disaster stabilization, noting that while they are in Botswana, they will undertake a comprehensive review of the national disaster risk management plan, using flooding in the Okavango Delta as the subject, and to identify any areas for improvement.
Tsie further said the exercise, named Exercise Civil Bridge 11, will run for about two weeks in villages like Maun, Gumare and Shakawe that are commonly affected by floods.
Moagi Baleseng, the director of the National Disaster Management in the Office of the President, confirmed that they are expecting some officers from the British army who will be conducting an exercise in Botswana, especially in flooding areas.
He said although one cannot specifically say they are absolutely ready when disaster strikes he assured the public that his office is ready to respond to any disaster.
“Our response to any given situation should be at least less than three hours in which we will be able to assist those who need help,” he said.
He added that in those three hours, the expectation is that his office would have dispatched the necessary assistance, like food, tents and water, among others.
Baleseng further stated that there have been calls from the public that his office should have a toll free number.
“We cannot have a toll free number now because our office is the second to arrive at the affected area,” he said, adding that the common disasters that are often experienced in Botswana are floods, thunderstorms, as well as fire.