JIS News

Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr. Barbara Carby, has called on the Jamaican government to make disaster mitigation a national priority.
Speaking against the background of the increasing frequency of natural disasters within the Caribbean and Latin American and their resulting significant economic and social impacts, Dr. Carby stressed that, “at the national and regional levels, we must now seriously and consistently make mitigation and in a wider sense, risk management, a national priority.”
She further noted that disaster mitigation should “be reflected in the budget, in national policies, in legislation, in ministry and agency work programmes, in community development, as well as in the oft-repeated national development.”
The ODPEM Director General’s comments came this morning (April 18) during her opening address at a natural hazard risk management workshop hosted by the Organisation of American States (OAS) Department of Sustainable Development and ODPEM, at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston.
While decrying the development of hotels along Caribbean coastlines and the construction of roads in close proximity to these coastlines, Dr. Carby expressed satisfaction that the Jamaican government “has taken a decision to increase the set-back limits for coastal developments, in order to protect future developments.”
She said both the political and policy directorate deserved commendation for their acceptance of scientific and technical advice on the matter. The ODPEM Director further pointed to the need for disaster mitigation to be a component of borrowing arrangements. “Although we are borrowing, mitigation is not a priority in our borrowing,” she remarked.
“One can only hope that mitigation is being factored into the post-event reconstruction projects, which are being funded from these loans, or we run the real risk of having to get other loans to repair damage to projects started under the first loans,” the ODPEM Director General pointed out.
The two-day natural hazard risk management workshop is being held under the theme: ‘Risk Sharing and Risk Transfer Arrangements of Natural Disasters’ and its primary objectives are: to identify projects, policies and cooperative partnerships that make progress in both risk mitigation and risk transfer; strengthen economic analysis associated with the benefits and costs of risk mitigation and risk sharing; identify best practices in the adoption of risk mitigation and technical standards; and identify specific risk sharing and risk transfer initiatives at the regional and sub-regional levels.

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