JIS News

Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Dr. Barbara Carby, has said that heavy debt burden was to blame for the Caribbean vulnerability to natural disasters.
She pointed out, that when the majority of a country’s budget was set aside for debt repayment, this invariably reduced the resources available to implement sound disaster management plans, to help countries to quickly recover from events such as flooding and hurricane.
“When a country has to pay approximately 70 cents on every dollar for debt servicing, the remaining 30 per cent cannot address the needs of that nation. Until we work out the economics, people like ourselves will continue to work hard and see very little result”, Dr. Carby stated.
She was addressing the closing session of the 2004 Regional Disaster Conference on Wednesday (November 3) at the Wyndham Rosehall Hotel in St. James. The three-day conference was held under the theme: ‘Managing Hazards in a Changing Environment’.
Dr. Carby emphasized that implementing a comprehensive disaster management plan required major financial resources, and “we cannot as a region continue to depend on donor funding to solve the issues of poverty and vulnerability.”
“Unless we make a fundamental change in the way we manage our resources, in the way we manage our economies, 20 years from now, we will be discussing these very same issues”, she stated.
The Montego Bay conference is occurring exactly 20 years after an initial national disaster management conference was held in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. It is the first such conference to be held in Jamaica, and brings together disaster management professionals, hazard management specialists, and other practitioners from Jamaica, the Eastern Caribbean, North and Central America.
Addressing the closing plenary, Coordinator at the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Response Association (CDERA), Jeremy Collymore, pointed out that the conference had provided “some significant fodder for informing future disaster preparedness programmes in the region”.
He explained that as part of the follow up process, a position paper would be put together from information gathered at the conference, for presentation at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction to be held in Kobe, Japan in January 2005.
He informed that regional heads of government would be briefed on the results of the conference within a week, to secure their permission for the drafting of the position paper, which should be ready by the end of the month.
Mr. Collymore called for the staging of an annual forum, such as the Montego Bay conference, to review and evaluate the disaster management process in the region.

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