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  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, says the soon to be gazetted Disaster Risk Management Act, will further solidify the Government’s commitment to ensuring that legislative support is in place for disaster resilience.
  • The State Minister was speaking at the launch of Earthquake Awareness Month, at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), in Kingston, on January 6.
  • It is being observed throughout the month of January under the theme: ‘Community Strengthening and Awareness…the Recipe for Building Earthquake Resilience’.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, says the soon to be gazetted Disaster Risk Management Act, will further solidify the Government’s commitment to ensuring that legislative support is in place for disaster resilience.

“This Ministry remains committed to advancing the efforts of building a Jamaica that is resilient to disasters in general, and certainly for earthquakes. We are far advanced with the Building Bill, which is now being reviewed by the Legislative Committee of Cabinet, before seeking Cabinet’s approval for its tabling in Parliament,” he said.

The State Minister was speaking at the launch of Earthquake Awareness Month, at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), in Kingston, on January 6.

It is being observed throughout the month of January under the theme: ‘Community Strengthening and Awareness…the Recipe for Building Earthquake Resilience’.

Mr. Fagan argued that the strength of the nation’s readiness is also dependent on the level of preparedness that takes place at the community level.

He urged all Jamaicans, irrespective of their location and perceived levels of vulnerability, to practise earthquake drills, acquaint themselves with information provided by the ODPEM regarding earthquakes, and be ready to act if and when a major quake jolts the island.

Mr. Fagan lauded the ODPEM for undertaking several initiatives to increase the awareness level of Jamaicans, particularly as it relates to earthquakes.

“Given the unpredictable nature of earthquakes, it is critical that comprehensive planning and increased opportunities for practice are carried out on a sustained basis; all in an effort to build resilience and minimize impacts,” he said.

The State Minister said the Ministry will continue to provide support to ODPEM and key response agencies with responsibility for earthquake preparedness, response and recovery.

“The lessons from Port Royal and Kingston’s devastating quakes have helped to shape the decisions we make and the strategies put forward to build the desired level of resilience,” he said.

Mr. Fagan added that the capacity of agencies such as the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the National Solid Waste Management Authority, are continually being boosted to facilitate efficient response.

The Disaster Risk Management Bill seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness, emergency management and response processes and mechanisms, through a range of measures.

These include: according recognition to existing organisational structures, such as the National Disaster Committee, Parish Disaster Committees, and Zonal Committees, with their roles and functions clearly established; provisions to legally evacuate persons identified as being at risk, based on their location; identifying and earmarking high risk areas as especially vulnerable areas, and outlining the necessary steps to be taken in respect of such areas.

Activities to observe the month will be undertaken islandwide and include expositions, simulations, and training sessions.

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