Women and children are said to be the most at risk and continue to be at risk during and after disasters because of existing gender inequalities.
Speaking at the commemoration of the 2012 International Disaster Reduction Day at Shakawe, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo, said women and children are among the poorest, lacking mobility as well as access to resources yet have increased family responsibilities.
Despite their vulnerable positions in pre and post disaster situations, their special needs are also ignored and even disadvantaged before disaster strikes.
Kaboeamodimo said that Botswana law and policies do not discriminate on the basis of gender but women themselves suffer discrimination only because of institutional practices and social attitudes, which are sometimes non responsive to change.
Women still endure gender based discrimination partly because of deep rooted socio-cultural practices and institutional cultures.
He urged women and girl children to change their mindset and be on alert at all times.
“I call on you to get training in community-based Disaster Risk Management, because the trainings are aimed at the community level to appreciate and have understanding of risk, planning and response in your respective villages,” he said.
Kaboeamodimo said that girls should make up community club membership, which deals with various issues at their level and are geared at mitigating disaster, and added that, through such investment to young girls at an early age, the nation will benefit immensely as they move into adulthood since they will be fully conversant with the language of Disaster Risk Reduction.
He said that Disaster Risk Reduction is everyone’s business with all women and girls included, so women should not be seen as victims but agents of change, actors and contributors at all levels.
Weather forecasters are anticipating more floods in the north-western part of the country at the end of the year.
Senior meteorologist, Charles Molongwane, warned during a disaster preparedness workshop in Maun that although the country is expecting below normal rain, heavy down pours are anticipated in the DRC and Angola, which will flood the Okavango River.
He advised residents in the Ngamiland area, especially women and girl children who are said to be the most vulnerable, to put in place contingency measures to prepare for possible flooding.