The University of the Free State – Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (UFS-DiMTEC), in collaboration with the United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), held a block course on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus in South Africa from 28 February to 9 March 2022. The 2022 theme was, 'Sustainable resilience building as we emerge from the complex global pandemic: Towards 2030 global agenda for Sustainable Livelihood Development'. The block course is held annually, with a strong focus on building resilience, sustainable development, and the reduction of vulnerabilities. Running for thirteen years now, this is the first face-to-face attendance since the disruption caused by the pandemic.

PICTURE 1[1] (Block course participants)

The course was attended by 17 participants from Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, South Sudan, and Cameroon. The participants were PhD candidates, master’s in Disaster Management students ,and disaster management practitioners working for institutions such as the Norwegian People's Aid South Sudan, City of Cape Town Disaster Management, Waterberg District Municipality, Goldfields Emergency Fire Services Training Academy, Ministry of Local Government Zimbabwe, Greater Kokstad Municipality Disaster Management, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality Disaster Management, and Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services. Over a period of two weeks, the participants from diverse backgrounds and the facilitators engaged in information sharing and transfer of knowledge concerning current affairs and inputs to solve some resilience-building problems.

In addition to the UFS facilitators, the course included other facilitators from UNU-EHS, Bonn, Germany; National University of Public Service, Budapest, Hungary; and the South African National Disaster Management Centre.
 

PICTURE 2[1] (Block course facilitators)

"The multi-disciplinary nature of the block course in terms of the content covered, provided the participants with diverse theoretical and practical information to contribute to the betterment of their areas of study, work disciplines, and living environments," said Dr Raphela, the Short Learning Programme Coordinator.

"The interactive nature and participatory approaches form part of the uniqueness of this course, which indulges participants and prepares them for their doctoral and master's studies, whereby their research skills are enhanced. The educational tour to the Mangaung Metropolitan Disaster Management Centre provided the participants with first-hand information on disaster-managed operations. The fieldwork, consisting of the Rapid Risk Analysis in a selected informal settlement, gave the participants the practical aspects entailed in the empirical research process for application to their studies. The practitioners will return to their portfolios better equipped with theoretical and practical disaster managing skills," explained Dr Ncube, the outgoing Short Learning Programme Coordinator.

Participants’ perspectives of the block course content
The course covered topics ranging from disaster management terminology, ecosystem disaster risk reduction, frameworks in disaster management, disaster risk assessment, holistic disaster management continuum/cycle, and international disaster management legislation and frameworks focusing on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

PICTURE A

"My master's research titled, 'The impact of mining on farmers in Virginia, South Africa', captured my interest in the block course. All the lessons provided in the block course were important and related to my study. I learnt more about the theory on environmental pollution and environmental impact assessments to better understand how farmers are affected by the negative effects of mining," said Peggy Mathekga, a Master of Disaster Management student.

When the course started somewhere in 2009, it mostly attracted disaster management PhD candidates. Over the years, the block course started gaining interest from disaster management practitioners as well, making the attendance a blend of academics and practitioners.


PICTURE B

Maureen Kudzai Maisiri shared what attracted her to attend the course: "COVID-19 taught us that we need to build resilience to survive. Also, the topics that would be covered in the course appealed to me and were relevant to my PhD study on investing in resilience and disaster risk reduction to reduce food insecurity among smallholder farmers in South Africa. The knowledge I gained from the course will help me achieve my PhD goals, especially the use of resilience frameworks. With my study, I want to equip smallholder farmers with knowledge and bridge the gap between DRR, resilience, and food insecurity."


PICTURE C

"The keyword 'resilience' drew my attention towards the block course," said Brighton Machisi, one of the PhD candidates whose research addresses food insecurity among smallholder farmers through post-harvest technologies and innovations. He wishes to build resilience among smallholder farmers so that they will be self-sufficient.

A visit to a vulnerable community

A local disaster management institution forms part of the block course content. In this case, it was the Mangaung Metropolitan Disaster Management Centre. The centre recommended an informal settlement called Grasslands for the participants to visit. The participants engaged with the community members regarding their capacities and vulnerabilities to hazards such as flooding and COVID-19. This exercise enabled the participants to practically apply the theory acquired in class and to provide recommendations from the practical exercise for community resilience building.


PICTURE 3[1]

(Block course participants en route to field visit)

PICTURE D

"Grasslands is a great community, I saw the potential for a stable and secure community, but the people will need government support. They are industrious and have learnt to be resilient and cope with hazards independently. They are receptive and open people who are ready for help. I hope the government will consider this community and do something tangible for them," said Lum Sonita Awah, a PhD in Disaster Management candidate.



PICTURE 4

(Block course participants talking to community members)

PICTURE E Jabson Muringani, a PhD in Disaster Management candidate, also shared his views regarding his visit to the community of Grasslands: "The people of Grasslands are living in squalid conditions, we could not help but be moved by the deep levels of suffering. Too many people live on a knife edge due to floods, COVID-19, crime, and waste pollution. No single sector will be able to respond to the depth and breadth of humanitarian crises on its own. Progress will need strong support from state and civil society at large."


Dr Alice NcubeDr Alice Ncube was invited as one of the speakers for the launch of this report. Her presentation was on the Importance of Risk Assessment and Disaster Risk Reduction as the world navigates Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063. The event was part of the United Nations World Cities Day held on 31 October, with the City of eThekwini joining other cities globally to celebrate the special day. The event was, however, held on 29 October to promote the international community’s interest in global urbanisation, to push forward cooperation among countries in meeting opportunities and addressing challenges with urbanisation, and to contribute to sustainable urban development around the world. In commemoration of Urban October 2021, with the theme: Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience, the eThekwini Municipality has partnered with the UN Habitat to host the online event on the following objectives:

• To raise awareness, promote, and advance a collaborative approach in dealing with disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and resilience.

• To facilitate capacity building, and the sharing of knowledge and resources as a mechanism to upscale cities’ preparedness response beyond the boundaries of individual municipalities, especially those with common risks and vulnerabilities, as well as economic status.

• To not only improve disaster-response preparedness, but to promote inclusive and sustainable service delivery at a regional scale.

Written by:Dr Olivia Kunguma
Date: 19 October 2021

As part of the student and staff development, UFS-DiMTEC obtained sponsorship from the Postgraduate School for a writing retreat. The event was held at the Bains Game Lodge over three days, from 12 to 14 October 2021. A total of 13 participants were in attendance. Each student had a lecturer guiding them step by step on writing their article or working on their PhD or master’s research. This was an interesting programme, as it involved intense reading, critical discussions, and writing – starting in the early morning hours into the late hours of the night.Dimtec Participants Participants – in no specific order: Zukiswa V Poto; Dr Alice Ncube; Dr Daisy T Raphela; Mariëtte Joubert; Dr Johannes Belle; Matshediso Mohoje; Solomon Charumbira; Oboneng Nonjola; Collin Parkin; Dr Israel R Orimoloye; Lemohag Mokoka
This is what two of the participants in the writing retreat had to say.


Mariëtte JoubertMariëtte Joubert

“UFS-DiMTEC afforded me the opportunity to attend the writing retreat. The opportunity created an academic atmosphere, which assisted me to focus on my research manuscript. Having my promoter sitting next to me helped me to focus, limiting any chances of me getting distracted by reading emails or WhatsApp messages. The retreat created the opportunity to have discussions with my promoter and other students to improve the quality of my work. I realised that I need to have dedicated times to work on my studies without interruption. The retreat made me focus on my studies again and made me realise the importance of interacting with peers, promoters, and colleagues in order to be a good researcher and academic.”

Ms Matshediso Mohoje Matshediso Mohoje

“The writing retreat was an invaluable opportunity created for students pursuing their master’s and PhDs in Disaster Management. The platform allowed interaction and exchange of ideas among us as students and our supervisors. What mainly stood out for me was the opportunity to sit with my supervisor, receiving one-on-one guidance through the article writing journey. With the preceding and current year being one of the most challenging periods of our time, seeing some of my classmates and lecturers for the very first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was incredibly uplifting. Spending time with like-minded individuals was particularly delightful, because we could learn from each other and support each other with academic writing, drafting of proposals, and completing dissertations. I think this initiative is imperative and should be extended to more students because one gets to understand the true essence of teamwork, as no man can ever exist as an island. It has become apparent to me that education is more meaningful and beneficial when shared. Importantly, I think this retreat gives students the confidence to believe that they can become academics and that their voices matter to the body of knowledge and the society at large. I for one, had little to no idea that I would at some point in my life pursue a career in Disaster Management, yet here I am today, loving it and incorporating it in my day-to-day activities. It is the one discipline that I strongly believe more people should explore, simply because it encompasses elements of every other discipline. As the saying goes, disaster management is everyone’s business, and it truly is.”

 Past Event  


PhD Research Week

Purpose: We acknowledge and understand that PhD is a lonely journey and COVID-19 has worsened the situation. Therefore, this research week serves as a platform where all our PhD candidates, from wherever they are in the world, can meet and engage on research issues that affect them or that they need assistance with. In general, the week aims to enlighten participants on how to conduct research and improve on their academic writing skills. With this research week, we also endeavour to aid our students to complete their studies successfully and within the stipulated study period.

Venue: Blackboard Collaborate
Programme:
Monday 23 – Friday 27 August 2021


Click this link for the programme

Of the first six cohort students who were awarded the Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme scholarships at the University of the Free State, two were accepted to do their PhDs in Disaster Management. The programme aims to improve the skills and competencies of students through enhanced mobility between African countries. It also aims to promote cooperation between African countries and to reduce poverty by increasing the number of qualified professionals in Africa. The programme is also intended to increase intercultural exchange in Africa and prepare the background for eventual regional integration in Africa. The University of the Free State is a partner institution of the Fostering Research & Intra-African Knowledge Transfer Through Mobility & Education (FRAME) project and DiMTEC, as the local coordinating partner invited applicants to apply for its disaster management qualifications.

Students

From the left: Ms DRJJ Moises, Mr OT Selelo, Ms LS Awah, and Ms EB Manyiayuk

The four students pictured above are from Namibia, Botswana, and Cameroon. Ms Moises will do her PhD in Disaster Management. Her research is titled, ‘Evaluation of operational early warning systems for flood risk reduction in Namibia’. Ms Awah will also do her PhD in Disaster Management; her research topic is, ‘Assessing the impacts of floods on water resources along the Cameroon coast: Case study of Douala’. The other students will do their master’s in Agricultural Economics.

Proud DiMTEC

From the left: Top – Dr A Ncube, Dr O Kunguma, Ms V Poto, Dr T Raphaela, Dr J Belle. Bottom – Ms DRJJ Moises, Mr OT Selelo, Ms LS Awah, and Ms EB Manyiayuk

UFS-DiMTEC is proud to be part of this initiative for the first time and is hoping that the programme will further widen the centre’s footprint in Africa. The centre will also use this opportunity to enhance staff mobility and open doors for project collaborations with other institutions of higher education in Africa.

Late Jointy Ndlazi prize
Best student in the Postgraduate Diploma in Disaster Management
Lindiwe Nhlamba

DiMTEC prize
Best Masters student in Disaster Management
Thobile Makhubu

For the first time, UFS-DiMTEC participated in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences’ Academic Awards Ceremony. The award ceremony was held virtually on 26 May 2021. The Dean of the faculty presented the awards to the students and thanked both the lecturers and the students with these encouraging quotes: "A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others", and "Teachers open the door for you, but you must enter by yourself". With these inspiring words, congratulations to the two students.

Lindiwe Nhlamba   Ms Lindiwe Nhlamba

The ‘Best Student in the Postgraduate Diploma in Disaster Management’ in honour of the late Jonty Ndlazi, was awarded to Ms Lindiwe Nhlamba. She achieved the highest average in her class and was awarded a certificate and a cash price.

Thobile Makhubu  Ms Thobile Makhubu

The ‘Best Master’s Student in Disaster Management’ – a DiMTEC prize, was awarded to Ms Thobile Makhubu. She obtained the highest average for her coursework and thesis. She was rewarded with a certificate and a cash prize.

We hope that these awards will make a significant contribution towards encouraging our students to perform exceptionally in their studies.

Written by: Dr Olivia Kunguma
Date: 26 May 2021

Ms Dithuso C Monare and President Cyril Ramaphosa

Ms Dithuso C Monare and President Cyril Ramaphosa

Ms Dithuso C Monare, a Postgraduate Diploma student in Disaster Management with the Disaster Management Training and Education Centre for Africa (DiMTEC), escorted the President during the Freedom Day celebrations in Botshabelo on 27 April 2021. She is currently the Director and Centre Manager of the Charlotte Maxeke Treatment Centre. Ms Monare escorted the President's delegation during a tour of the Charlotte Maxeke Treatment Centre before he addressed the nation.

This year's Freedom Day theme was, The year of Charlotte Maxeke: The meaning of Freedom under COVID-19.

The celebrations included the opening of the Charlotte Maxeke Substance Dependency Treatment Centre and the unveiling of the plaque by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The centre is the first state-owned state-of-the-art facility in the Free State. 

Premier Sisi Ntombela, Ms Dithuso C Monare, and President Cyril Ramaphosa
Premier Sisi Ntombela, Ms Dithuso C Monare, and President Cyril Ramaphosa

The abuse of alcohol and drugs is globally a problematic hazard that leads to various health risks. The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health (2011) revealed that the hazardous and harmful use of alcohol is globally a major contributing factor to death, disease, and injury. Substance abusers suffer from alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, and injuries. While intoxicated, they tend to behave violently, resulting in domestic violence, loss of productivity in the workplace due to absenteeism, drunk driving causing accidents, and many other social ills.

Due to drug and alcohol abuse burgeoning as a silent pandemic in South Africa, the Department of Social Development requested funding from National Treasury to build the treatment centre. National Treasury approved the budget under the prescripts of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act 70 of 2008 and the National Drug Master Plan 2013-2017 (now revised for 2019-2021) approved by Cabinet in June 2013. The treatment centre aims to conduct prevention programmes and work with other stakeholders to prevent and mitigate the supply and demand of harmful substances. The centre seeks to follow a multidisciplinary approach to handle substance-dependent persons, also known as addicts.
Ms Dithuso C Monare and President Cyril Ramaphosa

Ms Dithuso C Monare and President Cyril Ramaphosa

The treatment centre has a medical wing attended to by doctors on a sessional basis, and professional nursing staff who manage detoxification after determining the type and level of drug abuse at each person's admission. The actual treatment programme runs over three months. Personnel such as social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, life space workers, and vocational skills development personnel also form part of the process. Where psychotic cases are identified, the treatment centre refers the patients to psychiatrists.

Written by: Ms Dithuso C Monare
Edited by: Dr Olivia Kunguma
Date: 30 April 2021

Tlou Raphela

Dr Tlou D Raphela

Dr Raphela presented a poster at the International Conference on Innovations and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas (INTERSOL) held virtually on 12 and 13 April 2021. The theme of the conference was, Nature-based solutions, gender equity and interconnectivity for climate resilience in Africa. Her poster was titled, Energy and income cost of crop raiding to subsistence homesteads abutting the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, South Africa. She argued that crop raiding by wildlife contributes to food insecurity and affects marginalised communities and farmers.

poster presented by Dr Tlou Raphela


Written by: 
Dr Olivia Kunguma
Date: 14 April 2021

meet and greet screenshot

UFS-DiMTEC hosted a PhD meet, greet, and introduction on 21 April 2021. The invitation was sent out to all the DiMTEC registered doctoral students and full-time personnel at the centre.  This is part of the efforts of the newly appointed Programme Director, Dr Alice Ncube, to bring our doctoral students closer to the centre – especially now in the COVID-19 pandemic era where contact activities are not feasible.

The PhD students are from Nigeria, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, and Namibia. The meeting was chaired by Dr Alice Ncube, and in attendance, besides the PhD candidates, was Dr Olivia Kunguma, Dr Annelene van Straten, Dr Johanes Belle, Dr Tlou Raphela, Ms Zukiswa Poto, Dr Temitope Ojo, and Dr Sebastian Nyam.

The personnel welcomed and introduced themselves to both new and returning 2021 PhD candidates. They also offered some words of encouragement, motivation, and support for the journey that these students are embarking on. The PhD candidates introduced themselves, their work, and experiences so far. Some of the sentiments by the doctoral students were:

Ms Mariette Joubert 
Ms Mariette Joubert,
who is researching COVID-19 and its impact on social workers, indicated that she is struggling with collecting data due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, she devised some plans on how to best reach out to potential research participants, such as connecting with participants through Facebook.

Dr Isreal R Orimoloye   
Dr Israel R Orimoloye, who is pursuing his second PhD with UFS-DiMTEC – focusing on drought resilience in the Free State, South Africa – has published more than 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Having him as a UFS-DiMTEC PhD candidate has had a positive impact on the research success rate of the centre.

Ps Clement West Darris  
Pastor Clement West Darris, a former master’s student in Disaster Management, has returned to pursue his PhD journey with the centre. He is examining the impact of oil spills in the Niger Delta and building sustainable development for the community. He is, however, experiencing some difficulties with ethical clearance, which he identified as a cumbersome process.

Mr Sinothando Mtshengu  
Mr Sinothando Mtshengu has indicated that he is extremely happy and excited about his PhD journey so far. His research is on the development of a fire risk model for local municipalities. He was motivated to research this issue because of his background as a fire official, and because of the difficulties that the municipalities are experiencing regarding the poor management of fires.

Mr Simon Penda Iilonga  
Mr Simon Penda Iilonga, a former UFS-DiMTEC master’s student in Disaster Management, has returned to do his PhD with the centre. His research is on the development of a comprehensive disaster risk management model to strengthen the development of disaster risk management in Namibia.

Mr Mzwandile Sikhakhane  
Mr Mzwandile Sikhakhane is a former UFS-DiMTEC student. His research focuses on seasonal reoccurring flood resilience and identifying factors that impede communities from preventing floods.

Mr Mlamuleli Tshuma  
Mr Mlamuleli Tshuma decided to embark on his PhD journey as a full-time student. He is a resident UFS-DiMTEC PhD candidate. Mr Tshuma’s study is on community participation and water, sanitation, and hygiene management in flood-prone areas in Zimbabwe.

Mr Collins Muhame  
Mr Collins Muhame is a former student of UFS-DiMTEC. His study focuses on building urban resilience in human settlements. He wants to develop a model that can mainstream disaster management into human settlements in Bloemfontein. Currently in his third year, Mr Muhame is preparing a paper from his PhD that he wants to present at an international conference.


Written by: Dr Olivia Kunguma
Date: 21 April 2021


Zoom meeting Screenshot

Prof Alexandru Ozunu, a UFS-DiMTEC Affiliated Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, invited Dr Alice Ncube and Dr Johannes Belle to the launch of his latest published book. A total of 67 participants, mostly scholars and humanitarian officials, attended the launch. The launch was held virtually through ZOOM on 15 April 2021. The book, titled ‘Environment: As Risk and Emergency’, brings a fresh perspective on the management of environmental risks.

Date: 16 April 2021


Virtual Training

 

Dr Olivia Kunguma has been invited by the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to provide training on the Integrated National Drought Plan. The Integrated Drought Management Plan introduces a new phase in drought management in South Africa. With South Africa frequently declaring drought as either a provincial or national disaster, the NDMC considered it imperative to develop an Integrated National Drought Framework. It focuses on the shift from drought disaster response to preparedness and drought risk reduction. The training and information-sharing workshop was part of the process to understand and implement the proposed plan.

Dr Olivia Kunguma
Dr Olivia Kunguma

Prof Andries Jordaan (Director, Résilience Globale), with whom Dr Kunguma worked on the project, was the main facilitator. He presented topics on the history of drought and its management in South Africa, drought indicators, indicator reporting, drought contingency plans, drought management structures, and drought management templates. Dr Kunguma concluded the two-day training session with a detailed presentation on the drought information management and communication framework. “For any scientific study to be deemed complete, there must be a strategic management of information and communication of the results to the stakeholders concerned,” said Dr Kunguma.

Dr Kunguma, together with her project team members, recommended the establishment of a Drought Mitigation Unit to be established in the National Disaster Management Centre. The main function of the unit will be to implement the Integrated Drought Management Framework to mitigate, prepare, and monitor drought risks. The participants applauded the facilitators for the development of the plan and the training offered to impart an understanding of the plan. Still debatable is whether the recommendations to establish a Drought Mitigation Unit and the other drought mitigation recommendations will suffice in the near future.  

Written by: Dr Olivia Kunguma
Date: 30 March 2021



DIMTEC Screenshot

 

From the left are the UFS-DiMTEC panellists and the webinar presenter: Prof Joerg Szarzynski, Dr Alice Ncube, Prof Andries Jordaan, and Dr Johannes Belle.

The Disaster Management Institute of Southern Africa (DMISA) held its first virtual Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) webinar on 17 and 18 March 2021. This webinar replaced the DMISA annual conference, which has been presented face to face since its inception. The first virtual conference indicated the success of the speed with which institutions such as DMISA are innovating and moving with the times in the Fourth Industrial Revolution space. This year's theme was, ‘Impact and influence: enhancing strategy and execution in disaster, risk and resilience management.

Prof Andries Jordaan (of Résilience Globale and a Research Associate with UFS-DiMTEC) chaired a panel discussion on the review of the South African National Disaster Management Framework (NDMF). On the panel was Dr Alice Ncube (UFS-DiMTEC), discussing issues of gender and migration; and Prof Joerg Szarzynski (GLOMOS, UNU-EHS, and Affiliated Associate Professor of UFS-DiMTEC), who discussed disaster response and international liaison. The other panel members were Dr Yvonne Walz, Dr Davis Reddy, and Prof Dewald van Niekerk. Dr Olivia Kunguma, Dr Johannes Belle, and Dr Tlou Raphela actively participated in the discussion and provided valuable information on the review of the disaster management framework.

The panel discussion was part of the ongoing project undertaken by the National Disaster Management Centre to review the NDMF of 2005. This comes in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted governments and the global village to rethink the way disaster management is handled, as well as policy shifts in terms of DRR in line with the United Nations and African Union 2030 and 2063 agendas, respectively. This approach was appreciated by the participants and yielded several issues for consideration in the review of the 2005 NDMF.
Screenshot 2On the second day, Dr Johannes Belle presented a paper titled, ‘Turning hazards into opportunities through ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation: a case study of Moolmanshoek wetland, Free State province in South Africa’. In his paper, Dr Belle demonstrated that hazards, and sometimes disasters, may offer windows of development opportunity if well managed. He urged participants to watch out for such opportunities with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Written by: Dr Olivia Kunguma
Date: 19 March 2021

 


2020 was a very volatile year in which the global community was awoken to a period of virtual reality. At UFS-DiMTEC, we also had to adapt. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was UFS-DiMTEC’s tradition to have face-to-face contact sessions in January, May, and October. Unfortunately, all of this changed when COVID-19 struck. In 2020, all our contact sessions were held virtually. This year, we were elated when the Dean allowed us to provide the 2021 class of Postgraduate Diploma students with face-to-face contact sessions.

Postgraduate Diploma students 
Dimtec class of 2021
Class of 2021 Postgraduate Diploma students in Disaster Management

The Postgraduate Diploma in Disaster Management (PGDipDM) face-to-face contact session was held from 8 to 12 February 2021. This session was compulsory; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, some students could not attend. Alternative provision has been made for these students – our state-of-the-art IT department managed to connect them virtually. The lectures were also recorded to provide the students with access to further study, as they will be working remotely and submitting assignments. We also introduced tutorials for the students. Accordingly, the face-to-face class was held concurrently with a virtual class.

To adhere to the COVID-19 regulations and to make sure that the safety and health of our students were maintained, administration issues were handled remotely. The students' movement on campus was also restricted. We also made sure that the lecture hall was always sanitised, with students sitting 1,5 m apart and using the same desk throughout the week.

Forty-five (45) students enrolled for the PGDipDM. The majority of the students were from South Africa. We had four international students from Namibia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Cameroon.


Dimtec International students

International students from Nigeria, Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon.

The nine provinces of South Africa were represented, with a sizable number coming from KwaZulu-Natal. Regarding their employment status, most students were from South African disaster-management centres in the national, provincial, and local spheres. Others were from the South African navy, air force, defence force, social workers, IT graduates, research institutes, UN-WFP, and unemployed graduates. The main reason for embarking on this course is that disaster management is a scarce skill in South Africa. The international students were from research institutions (Namibia), UN-WFP (DRC), and the other two were unemployed.  

Master’s students

The Master of Disaster Management student contact session was held virtually. These students were progressing from the postgraduate degree and others were returning to complete their studies from previous years. Seventy-three (73) students are in various stages of their master’s studies. The session was very successful; this was a repeat of the previous year, where the second semester was done remotely. Some challenges were encountered, especially with connectivity.

To conclude

With the contact session being a success, UFS-DiMTEC is grateful to Dr Alice Ncube, the newly appointed Programme Director, for successfully managing the contact sessions. The devoted UFS-DiMTEC personnel, lecturers, the IT department, the Dean’s Office that assisted with registration and issuance of permits, the International Office, and Protection Services, all contributed to the success of the contact sessions – face-to-face and virtually. 

Written by:Dr Alice Ncube and Dr Olivia Kunguma


 

Once again, technology in the face of COVID-19 made it possible; UFS-DiMTEC is undoubtedly getting the hang of it! Today, we hosted our first online short learning programme, which is part of our community engagement.

NDMC


Picture: Blackboard Collaborate showing the facilitators and participants

A significant number of 32 participants from the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), mainly from their Nerve-centre section, attended the training. This short learning programme (SLP) is our first online SLP in partnership with the NDMC. We are grateful to the NDMC for affording us such an opportunity and entrusting UFS-DiMTEC with the task to impart knowledge on disaster management and incident command systems to its workforce. The half-day course included a session on 'Introduction to Disaster Management', which was facilitated by Dr Johanes Belle. He covered topics on terminology, the relationship between disasters and development, South African disaster management legislation and policy, as well as international policies such as the Sendai Framework and many other topics notable for the comprehension of the disaster management phenomenon. After Dr Belle's session, a significant session on 'Introduction to Incident Command' was presented by Prof Andries Jordaan. His session was on the fundamentals of incident command systems, such as information technology and communication systems, command structures, incident response procedures, terminology, and standard operating procedures.

In his welcoming and essential to note, was an interesting quote shared by Dr Mmaphaka Tau, the Head of the NDMC, "Don't fix the blame, fix the problem". This quote is imperative and relevant, especially in disaster management where a multisectoral and multidisciplinary approach (everybody) to reducing risks and increasing resilience is required to fix the problem. For this opportunity, we would like to thank Dr Moses Khangale, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, Prof Andries Jordaan, Dr Johanes Belle, Dr Alice Ncube, and Ms Nompumelelo Ekeke for their great contribution to this course.

Here is what some of our participants had to say about the course:

Enest Ledwaba: “We are thankful for this learning opportunity; thanks to all those who put in an effort to coordinate it, and also to the presenters for their informative engagement, thank you.”

Kwena Molokomme: “The training was informative, and I am looking forward to many more engagements. Disaster management in our lifetime. I am interested in disaster and development.”

Written by: Olivia Kunguma (kungumao@ufs.ac.za)

Date: 22 September 2020

For more information about UFS-DiMTEC’s short learning programmes, please contact
Dr Alice Ncube
E:
 ncubea@ufs.ac.za



BLOEMFONTEIN CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531
E:vdberge@ufs.ac.za

QWAQWA CAMPUS FACULTY CONTACT

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284
E:naturalscienceqq@ufs.ac.za

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