A VERY CONCERNED CITIZEN OF THE REPUBLIC OF MAURITIUS
The NDRRM Act 2016 (Part II, section 8.1) warrants that “The National Council shall meet as often as its Chairperson may determine but at least once every month”.
Question: How often has the Council met from 2020 onwards and what are those dates?
The NDRRM Act 2016 (Part III, section 10.1) warrants that “There shall be a Director-General of the National Centre who shall be a public officer”.
Question: Who has overseen the NDRRMC (managerial and operational) since 2016 onwards and what are their qualifications?
Question: What are the current qualifications and experience of the staff of the centre?
The Wakashio Oil Spill Crisis has put severe blame on the operations of the NDRRMC as well as on institutional coordination mechanisms between public bodies.
Question: What are the measures that you have taken since 2020 to address these shortfallings?
Section  of the National Policy 2020-2030 DRRM states that “The National Policy will be implemented by the Government of the Republic of Mauritius through the National Strategic Framework and the National Action Plan. The concepts set out in the National Policy should be progressively integrated into overall development policy, programs and projects for the Republic of Mauritius and be reflected in undertakings by the civil society and the private sector. This integration process should prioritise policies and activities in the areas of environment, climate, land use and tourism and focus on improving the use of information on disaster risks across sectors.
Question: In the light of recent floodings caused by the ongoing building and construction projects across the island, what are the measures that you have taken to ensure that you are compliant with your own policy?
Section  of the National Policy: disaster risk reduction will be based on an extensive understanding of the natural and anthropogenic hazards, as well as the vulnerabilities and risks faced by the Republic of Mauritius. Understanding disaster risks requires ongoing research into the physical, social, and economic causes of risk.
Question: What research have you carried out since 2016 and can those studies be made public?
Section 2.4.3 of the National Strategic Framework (2020-2030) on DRRM: The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk – Mauritius report provides an overview of hazards, vulnerability, and disasters facing the Republic of Mauritius together with a diagnostic of the need for multi-hazard risk assessment. The report cites cyclones, torrential rains, flash floods, landslides, drought, earthquake, epidemics, fires and technological/industrial hazards as significant for the Republic of Mauritius.
Question: Have you performed a multi-hazard risk assessment? If yes, what are the outcomes? If no, why?
The National Strategic Framework (2020-2030) on DRRM states that the Vision if for : A safe, adaptive and resilient nation. It furthers states that:
This vision is based on an understanding that development must be sustainable. This sustainable
development (A) incorporates risk reduction, (B) addresses poverty, (C) assures land and other
natural resources are used in a way that reduces risks, and (D) engages eco-system services on
land and at sea to reduce and adapt to risks and build natural and social resilience. As a small island
state, the Republic of Mauritius needs to be innovative and collaborate across the Indian Ocean and with other states facing similar risks and development challenges.
Question: In view of the recurring issues plaguing disaster preparedness and response year-on-year, do you consider that you have failed to discharge your duties or at the very least that you have failed the stated vision? If negative, what are the measures that you have taken 2016 onwards to implement points A, B, C, D above?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report states that: “There remain two key challenges to address: Firstly, risk information is not available in the right format for decision makers (open access, digital, spatial and user-friendly data at the right scale); and secondly the assessment of disaster risk does not integrate the analysis of multiple hazards”
Question: What measures have you taken to address this shortcoming?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report states that: “The establishment of an information sharing framework to provide easy access to selected information on population vulnerability, hazard prevalence, land use and critical infrastructure, as well as data on disaster losses and damages, is a key requirement for improving DRR in Mauritius.”
Question: What has been undertaken in this particular context?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report states that: “Despite a strong legal and policy framework, development and informal settlements continue in areas prone to disasters. While local councils have significant responsibilities, they have not been allocated appropriate resources to full their DRR mandate.”
The NDRRM Act 2016 (Part II, section 6(a)) warrants that “The National Council shall ensure that Ministries, departments and local authorities have adequate human resources, tools, materials and other resources for the effective implementation of disaster risk reduction and management activities at all levels”.
Question: From 2016 onwards, what are the resources that have been made available to all public bodies involved in DRRM? Since 2020, what are the remedial measures taken to address the shortcomings for resource management?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report states that: “Significant effort is required to improve the risk identification and information management system and investment is needed to improve the early warning system for ﬂooding.”
Question: Does the country have an operational flood forecasting system? Since 2020 onwards what are the measures taken to improve early warning system for flooding to a level where it is effective, efficient and tuned to the needs of the population?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report (section 3.1, Legislative and policy frameworks for disaster risk management) had identified multiple failings of the NDRRM Act 2016. Addressing them should have been an utmost priority to ensure that the National Policy and National Strategic Framework 2020-2030 is effective in its vision to make Mauritius a safer place for its inhabitants. For the sake of informing the population, the extract is reproduced in toto below:
A DRR/M law is dedicated to i) clarify institutional mandates; ii) establish the responsibility and accountability of relevant actors across sectors and levels – including local government responsibilities; iii) ensure allocation of dedicated resources, iv) ensure the participation of civil society and private sector in DRR. Ideally, it should also include legal provisions for risk assessment and regulate early warning.
- While acknowledging its many strengths, there are some gaps in the DRR/M Act:
- The DRR/M Act does not elaborate on NDRRMC responsibilities and resources to perform the function of coordination of disaster prevention and mitigation efforts.
- The Act remains vague on responsibilities and accountabilities of sector ministries in the implementation of disaster prevention and mitigation activities. In this respect, the National Disasters Scheme is useful to specify roles and responsibilities of different government agencies and other actors but it is focused on hazard preparedness.
- The Act does not clarify the accountability lines between institutions: only local committees and NDRRMC Director General are expected to submit a report on the implementation of their DRR mandate.
- The key to effective local institutional structures to support DRR is that they have clear legal mandates and authority, matched with dedicated resources and capacity. The DRR/M Act neither elaborates on the local government responsibilities (except for the outer islands) nor does it clarify the resources allocated for the fulfilment of their function.
- Overall the DRR/M Act remains vague on budget provisions for DRR: “every Ministry, Government department, local authority shall allocate an adequate budgetary provision for that purpose within its annual budgetary estimates.” It is unclear on responsibilities and resource allocation for post disaster recovery or contingency planning.
- It does not include legal provisions for risk assessments or for guaranteeing citizens access to risk information.
- It does not set clear obligations for private sector actors.
- Like in most countries, the legal framework for DRR is contained in many sectoral legislations. There is however little evidence of coordination between sectors when developing the legislation. Environmental legislation appears to be administered separately from building and spatial planning regulations and also from DRR/M Act.
- The Town and Country Planning Act dating back to 1954 is still in force, while the planning and development Act enacted in 2004, which provides for a national spatial framework, is not yet fully implemented. Despite the urban outline schemes (PPG), there is no proper urban policy. In the absence of proper land use planning and urban planning, Mauritius miss a critical policy instrumentto enforce risk informed development.
- The Building Code reveals some gaps in relation to DRR and more specifically to the management of landslide, floods or earthquake hazards. Most importantly, responsibility for building code enforcement is held by the local government but insufficient capacity and resources at this level of government, combined with a lack of a ‘culture of compliance’ are identified as the two capacity gaps in implementation.
- The DRR Strategic Framework and Action Plan neither includes a financing strategy nor an M&E Framework
- The policy framework for DRR is outdated: the DRR Strategic Framework and Action Plan, the National Environment policy and the National Climate Change Adaptation policy framework need to be updated taking into account the availability of new climate and disaster data, the development of the industry sector, and the changing nature of risk (pandemic, technological hazards, floods).
184.108.40.206 Build a coherent legislative and policy framework for disaster risk reduction
220.127.116.11.1 NDRRMC and the Climate Change Division (CCD) to conduct a light legislative and policy review to identify DRR & CCA provisions in existing sector legislations and policies with the view to achieve consistency and inform the development of the Climate Change Act, the revision of Climate Change Policy Framework, the new Environmental Strategy 2020-2030 and the new National DRR Strategy. PRIORITY.
18.104.22.168.2 The DRR/M Act & the CC Bill should have consequential amendments for each sector to clarify their obligation and accountability, including provisions for risk assessment / identification within each sector.
22.214.171.124.3 NDRRMC to contribute to the development of the Climate Change Bill & revision of Climate Change Policy Framework to harmonize provisions for DRR & CCA across sectors.
126.96.36.199.4 NDRRMC to contribute to the development of the new Environmental Strategy 2020-2023 (notably to explore the possibility to revise the EIA guideline to better integrate risk assessment).
188.8.131.52.5 Funding arrangements for DRR must be part of the legal framework, not only for annual recurrent expenditure, but also for emergency response, for recovery, and for investment in prevention across sectors and at local level (could be a % of annual sector budget allocation).
184.108.40.206.6 When there is a revision of the Building Code, DRR provisions must be included.
Question: In not taking action in general since 2020 on those recommendations and more specifically when it comes to the NDRRM Act 2016, have you failed your duties?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report (section 3.2, Institutional framework and coordination mechanisms for DRM) highlights the following challenges and capacity gaps:
NDRRMC organizational structure & anchoring limits its efficiency
Coordination between sectors and between state and non-state actors is not effective.
NDRRMC organizational structure is based on an ad-hoc arrangement relying on secondments from the Police forces. While this arrangement has allowed the institution to perform key functions during its first five years of existence, the transition to a full-ﬂedged team of DRR/M professionals is now urgent.
Linked to the above, NDRRMC has faced difficulties to recruit, attract and retain qualified professionals (for instance engineer, information management specialist with GIS expertise, or socio-economic recovery expert)
With the renewed focus on risk reduction and prevention in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, NDRRMC organizational structure is not aligned with the Sendai Framework and is not conducive for the implementation of a Disaster Risk Reduction strategy. The division into three directorates (Preparedness, Response and Recovery) does not provide leadership and operational support to the coordination of prevention and mitigation efforts.
Question: what has been done to address these shortcomings?
Further, in line also with the National Policy, “there is no operational body for the overall coordination of DRR efforts across sectors. The National Council plays a critical role as a national high-level oversight and consultative body to consult and build consensus on measures to address critical threats. There remains the need to establish a national multi-stakeholders DRR platform with an operational mandate in DRR to jointly implement a workplan. It was also noted that the sub-committee on ﬂooding established under the National Council was not given enough authority”.
Question: what measures have you taken to ensure the participation of all stakeholders in the DRR strategy? By the way, what is the DRR strategy for Mauritius?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report (section 5.1, Hazard/ Risk analysis and early warning) highlights the following challenges and capacity gaps which should have addressed as an utmost priority:
Impact monitoring of early warning is lacking to assess the efficiency of the system.
The EWS (Early Warning System) is relatively weak for ﬂood risk and forest fire, pest and epizooties.
The network of observation stations is insufficient. The number of automatic weather stations and the number of river gauges to monitor river levels need to be increased to improve ﬂood, including ﬂash ﬂood forecasting. Similarly, the network of sea level monitoring stations could be increased to monitor wave heights and provide timely information to fishermen of main island and Rodrigues.
Question: what measures have you taken to address these shortcomings which are the reason why inaccurate previsions are creating havoc in the country?
The Diagnosis of Capacities to Manage Disaster Risk (CADRI) – Mauritius 2020 report (section 5.5, Contingency planning) states that: “The national oil spill contingency plan was done 25 years ago. With South Africa experts to pump out the oil – contracted to private sector because for tier 2 and tier 3 emergencies the government does not have the capacity.”
Question: The national oil spill contingency plan has been revised in 2021. Why is it still not operational?