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JIS News

Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr. Barbara Carby has urged Jamaicans to take responsibility for mitigating the impact of unpreventable disasters, particularly as the hurricane season approaches.
In a recent interview with JIS News, Dr. Carby said that whilst that there were some disasters such as hurricanes that occurred as a result of nature, others such as flooding and landslides were often ‘manmade’.
Speaking specifically to the issue of flooding and landslides, she noted that too often people constructed their homes in areas that were flood prone, such as near to riverbeds, or on soils that are prone to landslides. Dr. Carby therefore urged persons to get approval from the relevant authorities prior to constructing buildings.
Manager, Application Processing, at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Leonard Francis, supported Dr. Carby’s view, stating that whilst many persons may see getting the necessary approval as a bothersome process it would be in their best interest in the long run.
“As it relates to landslides for instance,” he explained, “often this occurs when persons go ahead and construct buildings illegally and there are only a few cases in which people have gotten approval and are affected by landslides.”
He further pointed out that getting the necessary approval was not a matter of choice, but a legal obligation, which is stipulated in the Building Act, as well as in the Town and Country Planning Act.
“Do not build illegally,” he implored, “but get professionals to actually do whatever development you are doing and submit your plan to the relevant authorities which in most cases are the Parish Councils.”
In addition to from getting the necessary approval in order to construct buildings, Mr. Francis stressed that persons should also ensure that they hired professionals to do the construction. “Sometimes you have your approval, but you might employ someone to construct the building who does not know exactly what he is doing. so getting a professional who knows exactly what to do,” he explained. In light of Jamaica’s vulnerability to natural disasters and their often severe impact in recent times, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, in collaboration with the ODPEM, is focusing on disaster preparedness, for Labour Day 2005, under the theme: ‘Prepare for Disaster: Recover Faster’.