JIS News

A new Disaster Management and Mitigation Act will be instituted as the government seeks to place emphasis on disaster mitigation and risk reduction.
Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, has informed that Cabinet has approved instructions for the drafting of the legislation act, which will repeal and replace the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Actof 1993.
“The reason for this is that over the past 10 years, the face of disaster management has been changing internationally and locally. The emphasis is more on risks reduction and mitigation than on just preparing and responding. Clearly, that will always be a feature of how we function but emphasis now has to be on mitigation and reduction of risks,” Senator Whiteman told journalists at yesterday’s (Dec.5) post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.
The new law will be geared towards strengthening areas in need of immediate attention. These include the need for: legal recognition of existing organizational structures such as the National Disaster Committee, the Parish Disaster Committees and the Zonal Committees, with their roles and functions clearly established; the legal establishment of a National Disaster Fund; to legally evacuate persons identified to be at risk as a prevention measure; and the identification and description of high-risk areas as “specifically vulnerable areas” and the necessary action to be taken in respect of such areas.
Senator Whiteman pointed out that the new act would require all government agencies and departments to appoint liaison officers to work with the Director General in disaster management and emergency response planning.
He added that the private sector would also be required, on notice from the Director General, to appoint liaison officers to work with the Director General in disaster management and emergency response planning. “We look forward to the speedy processing of this legislation and its eventual passage into law,” Minister Whiteman noted.
The new act should be passed before the start of the next active hurricane season, which begins on June 1, 2006.