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2.1.3 Fire management organizations in the region


The Organizational arrangements and procedures of national and local fire management systems vary from country to country.

In the years after 1983, forest and bush fire control became an important priority of the environmental protection policy of the government of Côte d'Ivoire (Anonymous 1996). In 1986 a National Committee of Forest Protection and Bush Fire Control was formed. Personnel of the Forest Service fill the positions of the General Secretariat and the Presidency of the National Committee. These bodies coordinate the participation of 14 ministries involved in national programs. The task of this committee is to raise the awareness of the population of the damage caused by fires, the need for fire prevention and techniques for extinguishing fires. On the administrative level, 1 500 Village Committees, 57 Local Committees and 32 Regional Committees were created to decentralize the task of fire control during the last ten years. These committees consist of elected members, a secretary and a president. The committees work to raise consciousness of fire threats and inform the public about fire prevention. The office of the Secretary General and the regional divisions support them in an advisory role and also play an important role in monitoring the current forest fire situation at the national level. The contracts with the committees are paid monthly (during the four months of the dry season). The remuneration is inversely proportional to the size of the area affected by fire (Oura 1999). The basis of payment is:

The average cost of surveillance is about F CFA 3 000 (US$7) per ha per year for forest plantations and F CFA 1 000 (US$2) per ha per year for natural vegetation.

In Bénin, Local Fire Committees have been created in the villages for fire prevention, detection, and suppression in collaboration with forest rangers and local agricultural officers (see Bénin country report). After disastrous fires in 1983, Ghana also established a National Anti-Bush Fire Committee in 1984.

For other national fire management systems see the country reports of this regional study. FAO (1996) and Goldammer and de Ronde (2001) give general recommendations for fire management in Africa.


Attempts to organize regional fire management efforts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) zone were made in the 1990s. The member states of SADC include Angola, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo and Seychelles. In 1992, during discussions between representatives of the Forestry Sector Technical Coordination Unit (FSTCU) of SADC and the USDA Forest Service, the possibility of a SADC-wide regional forest fire management system was raised. This led to terms of reference in 1994 for an investigation or review of the situation in each country. A project team, consisting of experts from the United States and Canada, conducted the review and prepared a report on the findings and recommendations. These were discussed at a meeting in Lusaka in November 1995 attended by representatives of 11 of the then 12 SADC countries and by the project team. A follow-up report was produced in February 1996. FSTCU is still seeking assistance in implementing the projects that have been identified. For details see Kromhout (1999). The SADC concept was supported by the recommendations of the Namibia Round Table on Fire in 1998.

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