Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott is urging community members to play a more active role in mitigating the effects of natural disasters on the island.
“Natural disasters can have far-reaching economic impact as well as devastating effect on local communities and it is our actions at the community level that will determine the extent of the damage and the length of the recovery period,” he said.
The Minister was speaking at a press conference to launch Disaster Preparedness Month on June 1, at the headquarters of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in New Kingston.
Mr. Arscott praised ODPEM for its work in strengthening communities’ capacity to protect against disasters.
Pointing to the recently completed ‘Building Disaster Resilient Communities’ (BDRC) project , he noted that the achievements under that initiative are significant and commendable, with 28 organised community emergency response teams established.
Director General of ODPEM, Ronald Jackson, said the agency has been focusing on a number of initiatives to build community capacity to prevent, mitigate and respond to all hazards, including climate-driven hazards.
“Our organisational focus has been on multi-hazard planning for communities through the BDRC project …and also on the slope stabilisation, flood reduction and rainwater harvesting project. These are very significant …interventions, which we feel are going to be significant in addressing some of the climate change risks, certainly at the community level,” he stated.
Disaster Preparedness Month is being observed under the theme: ‘Embrace Climate Change Realities…Build Disaster Resilient Communities’. The 2012 Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
By Alecia Smith, JIS Reporter