Swakopmund (German for “Mouth of the Swakop”) is the 4th largest population centre in The Republic of Namibia, with the Namib Desert on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side. On the 3-4 April this year it was the host town for the 4th Session of the maritime SAR coordinating committee for the Southern African Maritime SAR Region (SAMSRR).
Representatives from the SAR authorities of South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros and Namibia spent 2 days reviewing the regional SAR development and updating the neighbouring countries on SAR development in their organisations.
These regional meetings are a key component to the IMRF Global SAR development project, working in partnership with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Technical Cooperation Committee. The forums have been a catalyst to the development work being facilitated by the IMRF in 4 of the 5 SAR regional groups in Africa and this was the first meeting of SAMSRR that the IMRF have attended. CEO Bruce Reid, represented the IMRF at the meeting and he noted there are common themes across the regional meetings with resourcing/funding SAR services and SAR training always near the top and as Bruce explained:
"We have been fortunate to have funding through the IMO to assist in bringing these organisations together. I think that it helps to see that the challenges you are facing are shared by other organisations in the region. The major benefit of these forums though is the ability to share the successes and how these have been achieved."
The meeting established a number of actions to help regional SAR development including; reviewing the training needs of each country; developing a common way of recording and sharing statistical data so this could be reported regionally in an annual report; identifying how arrangements between states can be established to allow faster entry of SAR units across national borders and the development of a regional web-site to help promote the SAR work being done in the region.
Following on from the meeting the African Region SAR Organisation and Management Training course was held. This course is an initiative of the IMRF Global SAR Development Project, in partnership with the IMO and it was facilitated by Mr. J Blows (RMRCC Chief), Mr. N Tshibalanganda(RMRCC Cape Town SMC) and Mr. M Roberts (RMRCC Cape Town SMC).
The course improves the knowledge of search and rescue administration, in particular Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) and its Sub-Centres (MRSCs), giving insight into what is required in setting up an effective and efficient SAR system. By providing a consistent level of training in the African Regions this will help improve maritime SAR coordination and response as well as enhance cooperation between the Regional MRCC (R-MRCC) established in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa and the Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (MRSC) established in the Region.
Mr Blows noted: "We would like to thank the IMRF and the IMO for making the course possible. The hosts also need to be thanked for the hospitality and enthusiastic participation in the training."