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Prime Minister Bruce Golding has announced that a cadre of 150,000 young persons from high schools across the island are to be trained, to provide the appropriate response in the event of a pending disaster, or in its aftermath.
He said the participants would further benefit from the principles of leadership and discipline acquired through the exercise. Members of Community Based Organizations ( CBOs), will also be trained in the area of disaster preparedness and mitigation.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the launch of the Emergency Recovery Project, on the grounds of the May Pen Health Facility in Clarendon on June 27.
The training programme is one of several initiatives to be funded through the Emergency Recovery Project. The US$10 million Emergency Recovery Loan, which the government has obtained from the World Bank, will also be used to fund rehabilitation works on 72 schools, 22 health centres and 16 roads across the country, which were extensively damaged by hurricane Dean.
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), will be responsible for the management and implementation of the project, which will take place in two phases over the next three years. Mr. Golding urged Jamaicans to assume far greater responsibility in helping to prevent the amount of damage and destruction which generally occurs with the passage of natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
He explained that in light of the increasing economic challenges, the Government was not in a position to fund a large scale repair or replacement of the country’s infrastructure, and as such, on an individual and family basis, Jamaicans must play their role in the disaster mitigation process.
“We can prevent, substantially, the damage that is done when these disasters come, and that is why we put so much effort into mitigation, into sensitization, into training, into alerting people, into getting people to understand that we can do some things to help ourselves, so that if this hurricane comes, it does not do as much damage as it otherwise would have done,” he said.
The Prime Minister expressed dissatisfaction with the level of response to disasters, pointing out that much more would have to be done to ensure promptness and efficiency in that regard.
Rehabilitation of the country’s infrastructure will take place in the first phase of the project, while phase two will involve the mobilization and training of communities, and the conducting of important studies in areas such as Coastal Management and Disaster Planning, to increase the government’s response capacity.
Five contracts were signed at the launching for work to begin on projects in the parishes of St. Thomas, Manchester and Clarendon.