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Story Highlights

  • Countries in the region have been urged to put in place urgently, sound environmental management and disaster risk reduction systems.
  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, delivered the keynote address at the 8th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management.
  • The five-day conference, which ends on December 6, is being staged under the theme: ‘CDM for resilient development: a good investment’.

Countries in the region have been urged to put in place urgently, sound environmental management and disaster risk reduction systems, as they are at greater danger to natural hazards than other countries worldwide.

The call came from Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, as he delivered the keynote address at the official opening of the 8th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM), at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, on December 2.

The five-day conference, which ends on December 6, is being staged under the theme: ‘CDM for resilient development: a good investment’.

“Jamaica and the countries of our region are constantly reminded that we are the most vulnerable region of the globe. Our fragile economies, natural and built environment tell the tale of our vulnerability and risk.  Comprehensive Disaster Management must therefore be fully embraced by all sectors, all stakeholders, the region and the world,” Mr. Arscott emphasised.

The Minister said that citizens of the region must remain cognizant of the ever present threat of natural disasters, exacerbated by geography and socio-economic conditions, as well as the threat of technological and other human induced disaster events.

“We see disastrous events around us, often with catastrophic impacts as they increase in magnitude, frequency and intensity.  The most recent Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines, leaving thousands dead and injured.  Some weather experts claimed the event was three and a half times stronger than that of Hurricane Katrina (in the United States), which cost over $100 billion in relief support,” he informed.

As for Jamaica, the Minister indicated that comprehensive disaster management has been integrated into the country’s development approval processes, through its technical planning and environmental agencies and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

“The Government, through its public sector bodies and partners, continue to take action from lessons learnt, both locally and internationally.  Our Vision 2030 National Development Plan indicates our commitment to building resilience and is embodied in Goal 4: Jamaica as a Healthy National Environment,” Mr. Arscott pointed out.

“These will be executed through three national outcomes – Sustainable Management and use of Environmental and Natural Resources; Hazard Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation; and Sustainable Urban and Rural Development,” he added.

The Minister noted that through the Ministry, the Government has raised awareness in the area of climate change, and executed many climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction initiatives at the community level.

“Over the last three years, some 100 community interventions have been executed; and capacities have been built through training, education and awareness, and the implementation of micro-mitigation projects,” Mr. Arscott said.

He informed that the National Disaster Risk Management Bill is presently under review, with the aim of providing clarity of roles and responsibilities within sectors and the different structures within the National Disaster Management System.

“This should ensure better coordination among organizations, greater accountability on the part of respective lead entities and facilitate stronger measures for risk identification and reduction,” the Minister argued.

The CDM conference continues to be the hallmark disaster management event in the region, promoting the approaches and practices of Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management.  It brings together disaster management practitioners, professionals, public and private sector officials, and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society.