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The West African Disaster Preparedness Initiative held a disaster preparedness tabletop exercise with representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in November 2015. The tabletop exercise was hosted by the Republic of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organization and partners in Accra, Ghana.
ECOWAS Commission delegates and representatives from 10 member states were confronted with a series of simulated crises. Participants utilized existing national preparedness plans and web-based information technologies to research and communicate about internal disaster threats and those from neighboring countries. After each of the exercise’s three phases, facilitators distributed participant surveys.
A total of 106 individuals participated in the tabletop exercise. During the exercise, national teams utilizing well-developed disaster contingency plans and emergency operations center (EOC) standard operating procedures (SOPs) reached out to help less-prepared national teams. Key issues identified in the survey were language and cultural issues as barriers, effectiveness of disaster management agencies linked to heads of state, and the need for data sharing and real-time communication for situational awareness and multisector coordination.
This tabletop exercise helped improve and refine the ECOWAS regional and member states’ national SOPs that teams will employ to prepare for, respond to, and recover from future disasters. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:400-404)