Apply Knowledge Globally

Partnership trained 5,000 Individuals from 15 countries through Southern Africa All Hazards program

Simulation exercise led by Tim Murphy, Intermediate ICS Course in Windhoek, Namibia. USDA Forest Service photo by Tim Murphy.

SOUTH AFRICA – From 2003-2018, the USDA Forest Service, together with USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, worked extensively with partners to implement the Southern Africa All Hazards program. The Forest Service used fire management training, shadow and exchange opportunities, and on-the-ground disaster response to augment emergency management capabilities in Southern Africa. The program adapted the National Incident Management System, a comprehensive, national approach to incident management that helps stakeholders work together to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from disasters.

Over the last 15 years, 190 courses were offered to 5,000 trainees from 15 countries; 84 Southern Africans participated in U.S. study tours and the U.S. Forest Service’s International Disaster Management Seminar; and 40 South Africans attended 86 courses in the USA. The instructor cadre included more than 40 USDA Forest Service employees as well as colleagues from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the Fire Department of New York, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and South Africa. 

Firewise workshop in Mpumalanga, South Africa for primary school children. USDA Forest Service photo by Tim Murphy.

As this program concludes, the International Programs office would like to acknowledge and celebrate the professional and personal impacts and the relationships formed between people and organizations as a result. Particularly, the program would not have been possible without the invaluable leadership of Tim Murphy—deputy operations specialist for Region 1 Fire, Aviation and Air—who steered the program since 2003. The program also stood on the shoulders of the many participants and instructors in the courses and their willingness to share information and experiences with each other. Program instructors frequently cited their involvement in the program as a career highlight, and many international friendships have been formed, with instructors also learning much from participants.

As for impact in Africa, by encouraging a trilateral approach, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are well-positioned to aid each other during serious emergencies by deploying disaster management personnel when needed. Every day, men and women from a wide variety of organizations work together to save lives and protect property and the environment under a common system. As NIMS continues to mature in Southern Africa, its purpose will remain the same: to enhance unity of effort by providing a standard approach for managing disasters and events.

Female Crew Leader Course in South Africa. USDA Forest Service photo by Tim Murphy.