I am Lonwabo Luthango and I completed a BBA in Disaster Relief Management at Stenden South Africa (cum laude) in 2019. During my last year at Stenden, I did my internship at Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.  While on Internship we did a Community Based Risk Assessment for Duncan Village, provided JoC support for major events and assisted in coordinating response to a major fire which had impacted more than 300 people in Duncan Village.

After completing  my internship, I returned to campus to finish my thesis.  Just before I graduated, I  strted working at  Pearson Institute of Higher Education as a Student Affairs Advisor. This role was a sales and student retention rol, wehre I also coordinated the Student Representative Council, student wellness and student support for “at-risk” students.

After a short stint at  Pearson I left to take up an internship in Disaster Management at the Garden Route District Municipality in October, 2020. My role was to coordinate disaster management activity for Oudtshoorn and Kannaland Municipality. During this period I provided secretariat support to the District Command Centre which had been established to coordinate the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and I established a JoC for Kannaland Municipality in response to Covid-19 and also coordinated multi-disciplinary teams which undertook awareness, education and compliance monitoring as well as providing support to the lead department, which was the department of Health during Covid-19.

During this period, Oudtshoorn was also experiencing a drought, so I set up a multi-disciplinary team, supported by the Head of Centre and comprising of Departments of Agriculture, Water Affairs, Labour, Farmer Associations and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC). The purpose was to coordinate response to the drought. This process assisted in getting more funding for drought relief which included funding for the Blossoms Water Project in Oudtshoorn.   The department of Social Development was also able to provide relief to farmworkers and an awareness campaign was also created for Kannaland as a mitigation measure.  After the drought, both George and Oudtshoorn experienced a major flood, which saw the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Disaster Management Centre being activated to coordinate drought response and relief activities. After that, the event was classified as a provincial disaster, which necessitated further coordination from GRDM.

At the end of September, 2021, I was offered a contract as Disaster Management Officer at GRDM. I continued with my duties as before whilts additionally also participating in updating the GRDM Disaster Risk Assessment and Disaster Management Plan for Kannaland. In March 2022, we experienced a new risk, a locust infestation which mainly affected Oudtshoorn and Kannaland. I set up a Joint Operations centre, comprising of the DoA, local disaster management representatives for Oudtshoorn and Kannaland and farmer association representatives. As this was a new threat, we coordinated with National Department of Agriculture to organise training in locust control for farmers, identified the needs of the farmers such as PPE, pesticides and the training of District Locust Officers.

My time at GRDM has been most rewarding and I have been exposed to the various stages of a disaster management cycle. I am also excited to share that I will be starting a new position, end of May as an Assistant Director: Mitigation (Disasters and Development) at the Western Cape Department of Local Government, at the Provincial Disaster Management Centre. My role mainly involves:

  • Development of disaster risk reduction through the development and maintenance of DM chapters in the Integrated Development Plans of municipalities; the compilation and maintenance of provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies and Plan, assist and support in the annual assessment of DM chapters from the Integrated Development Plans of Municipalities.

I am currently enrolled for an Mphil in Disaster Risk Science and Development at Stellenbosch University. I completed my coursework last year and I am currently writing a Thesis titled “Flood Disaster risk creation through housing developments, using Grootbrak Rivier and Sedgefield as case studies.”  I aim to complete my research this year.