The International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) has been awarded $450,000 by The TK Foundation to support its work building maritime search and rescue (SAR) capability in Africa.
The funding will be spread over three years and will support the IMRF's Global SAR Development project, to help improve SAR capability across 29 countries in Africa, with a focus on building the capability of Rescue Coordination Centres, Rescue Sub-Centres and SAR Mission Coordinators.
The IMRF's involvement began in the North and West Africa region in 2012 working in partnership with the IMO Technical Cooperation Committee. The IMRF's work to support the IMO, its North and West Africa regional meetings, its training and the development of a regional SAR plan are all contributing to improved operational cooperation and governance. The approach has been a success, and has now spread to cover five African SAR regions.
Over the first four years of its work in Africa, the IMRF ran 19 courses, trained 261 SAR personnel and has established a local network of trainers who can deliver courses in their own countries and regions. The TK Foundation funding will enable IMRF to train a further 500 SAR personnel between 2017 and 2019, each of whom will receive recognition with a IMRF/IMO certificate on completion of their training.
There is, however, still a significant SAR capacity gap on training knowledge sharing and skill development. Many of the countries in Africa are in the early stages of developing structured and sustainable centralized SAR coordination capabilities, but maritime SAR development does not always receive sufficient priority for government funding.
The IMRF's Global SAR Development project is intended to encourage government support for SAR services. Each of the SAR Regions now has IMRF-designed and hosted websites to help raise profile of the SAR organizations and the work they do.
The IMRF's involvement in Africa global SAR has been driven by Mohammed Drissi, Trustee of the IMRF and the Head of the SAR Bureau at the Ocean Fisheries Ministry, Morocco, which is a long-standing member of the IMRF.
Drissi, says: "We have managed to build momentum though our regular training and regional meetings. As a result, we now have a pool of well-trained SAR coordinators and managers in the majority of the countries' Rescue Coordination Centres across the region.
"The goal has always been to help each country develop its own Rescue Coordination Centre capability so less time is lost and more lives can be saved when accidents occur at sea. We have also developed trainers within the region so we are less reliant on external trainers, but we could still be doing so much more."
The TK Foundation was established in honor of J. Torben Karlshoej, founder of the Teekay Shipping Group (now Teekay Corporation), and its grants support research, health care, facilities, education and other development opportunities.