On September 5, 2023, the Republic of Botswana became the 10th Member State of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to sign the Intergovernmental Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the establishment of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC). This brings the MOA closer to becoming operational, as two-thirds of 16 Member States are required to sign for its coming into force.
Situated in Nacala, Nampula Province, Mozambique, the SHOC is responsible for coordinating regional disaster risk preparedness, response, and early recovery efforts to support Member States affected by disasters. It plays a crucial role in managing the supply of equipment and supplies needed by SADC responders during humanitarian deployments.
The SHOC was established as an autonomous, self-accounting organization of SADC, and the purpose of the MoA is to establish SHOC and provide a legal basis for its operationalization.
Honourable Kabo Morwaeng, Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration for Botswana, representing the Botswana Government, highlighted the importance of prioritising disaster risk preparedness and response. He underscored that the region was faced with various catastrophic events, including heavy rains, droughts, floods, storms, and mudslides, resulting in loss of life and property damage. The Minister emphasised the need for regional unity and collaboration to enhance disaster preparedness and resilience.
Mr Alex Banda, Senior Advisor for the Disaster Risk Reduction Unit at the SADC Secretariat, expressed gratitude to the Government of Botswana for the commitment to supporting disaster risk management. He recognised the Agreement to be a milestone in improving coordinated disaster risk management efforts for SADC. Mr. Banda also highlighted the cumulative impact of natural disasters in the region, including the recent cyclone Freddy, which caused extensive damage in multiple countries, resulting in a spillover effect in Botswana.
Considering the increasing frequency and severity of disaster events in the SADC region, the Council of Ministers approved interim activities for the operationalization of the SHOC during their March 2022 meeting. The Secretariat continues to facilitate Member States in signing the MOA.
The occasion was also attended by Ms. Goitsemang Morekisi, Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration for Botswana, and Mr. Moagi Baleseng, Director at the National Disaster Management Office for Botswana. Accompanying Mr. Banda was Ms. Refilwe Mosarwa, the Legal Counsel at the SADC Secretariat and Mr. Letso Mpho from the Communication and Public Relations office at the SADC Secretariat.