Original Research

‘Prevention is better than cure’: Assessing Ghana’s preparedness (capacity) for disaster management

Martin Oteng-Ababio
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 5, No 2 | a75 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v5i2.75 | © 2013 Martin Oteng-Ababio | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 January 2013 | Published: 12 April 2013

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Martin Oteng-Ababio, Department of Geography & Resource Development, University of Ghana, Ghana

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This article examines and contributes to the debate on Ghana’s capacity and preparedness to respond to disasters and build safer communities. Having witnessed a series of catastrophic events in recent times, many have questioned the capacity of the National Disaster Management Organisation, an institution mandated to manage disasters in Ghana and whose operations have historically been shaped by external pressures, particularly the populist tendencies of the Provisional National Defense Council government in the 1980s. Analysing the results from the fieldwork and placing them in the context of contemporary disaster management strategies, this article gives an overview of Ghana’s preparedness for emergencies in the face of increasing urbanisation. It finds that the organisation is fixated on a top-down approach with low cooperation, collaboration and coordination with stakeholders, leading to situations where devastation and destruction occur before action is taken. Today, the consensus is that practitioners wean themselves from managing disasters and take to managing risk. Such a redirection of attention calls for the adoption of an appropriate institutional framework: an approach that unites the putative nation beyond competing loyalties to ethnicity, tribe and political entity.


Urbanising cities; risk accumulations; preparedness; disasters; NADMO


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1. Education for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR): Linking Theory with Practice in Ghana’s Basic Schools
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