In developed countries, disaster preparedness and management seem to be lite years ahead of what we have in Kenya. Almost every year, we are hit by a disaster that we either did not see coming or that we saw coming but did not have the right procedures to mitigate it. Needless to say, disaster preparedness is a disaster in itself!!
To some extent, it seems as if we like to wait till the last minute so as to rush in and try to rescue a situation which could have been easily avoided. One would ask what some bodies like the Red Cross society are mandated to do.
The good news is that by partnering with the private sector, greater things are achieved. The latest achievement has been the partnership between the Red Cross Society of Kenya and Safaricom which is the biggest regional network provider.
They have created a product called M-Salama which is an early disaster warning system. M-Salama is an SMS based information tool that will provide early warning for disasters with an aim of reducing the adverse effects on communities.
M-Salama will be available for use by all Safaricom subscribers. It will offer information on impending or upcoming natural disasters.
Such as floods, famine, and drought to enable users to make early decisions on how to stay out of harm’s way.
In the long term, the partnership aims to enhance disaster preparedness and strengthen community resilience.
The partnership between the Red Cross and Safaricom is bound to yield great results in the long run. The two parties will leverage the strengths of one another.
On one side, Red Cross will benefit from Safaricom’s ability to reach several people. Through its vast network coverage in the country.
That way, warnings can be sent in advance. Safaricom, on the other hand, will benefit from the knowledge and Skills of the Red Cross when it comes to risk management and containment of disaster.
According to Dr. Abbas Gullet, Secretary General, KRCS, “M-Salama is a timely innovation that will save lives due to its speed in communicating with the target audiences.
During the recent floods, we sent out more than ten million early warning messages. Information that guided many families to move to higher ground.
Today, telcos are well placed to offer colossal support in disaster reduction by using their resources. The improve the timely flow of crucial information before, during and after the disaster.”
As stated earlier, the service will be available to all Safaricom subscribers and to access the service, dial *600#. Ksh.1 is charged for every SMS.