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Story Highlights

  • The Government is boosting the pool of funds available for the country’s disaster preparedness and response.
  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, has informed that one per cent of the money charged for development approvals will be paid into the National Disaster Fund.
  • Established in 1995, the National Disaster Fund provides money to facilitate mitigation preparedness, rapid early response and recovery from disasters and other major incidents.

The Government is boosting the pool of funds available for the country’s disaster preparedness and response.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, has informed that one per cent of the money charged for development approvals will be paid into the National Disaster Fund.

The move will take effect during the new fiscal year, which starts on April 1.

The Minister was addressing the opening of a two-day workshop hosted by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) today (March 26), at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston

Established in 1995, the National Disaster Fund provides money to facilitate mitigation preparedness, rapid early response and recovery from disasters and other major incidents.

The Fund, which currently stands at over $300 million, receives an annual injection of $50 million from the Government.

Noting the importance of the facility, Mr. Arscott said it ensures that the Government has the capacity to respond immediately to disasters or crises. “The longer you take to respond, by the time you get international support, your economy will be in a difficult position and will take a longer time to recover… we know we will have the disasters and therefore, we will have to prepare,” he said.

He noted, however, that the resources of the fund are “not as robust as it should be”.

Mr. Arscott said the country takes disaster management seriously, evidenced by among other things, the passage of the Disaster Risk Management Act last year.

The Act seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness, emergency management and response processes and mechanisms, and reflects modern, strategic, administrative and legal approaches consistent with current best practices.

The two-day workshop, under the theme: ‘Mega emergency in small states,’ is aimed at stimulating discussion towards building a culture of disaster preparedness and response in small countries.

It is focused on small state vulnerabilities to multiple natural and man caused hazards, mobilisation of resources, among other things.

Presenters at today’s opening session included: Executive Director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson; Director General, ODPEM, Major Clive Davis; Planning Analyst, ODPEM, Leiska Powell; Environmental Health Consultant, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Taraleen Malcolm; Disaster Risk Management Specialist, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Audrey Mullings; and Manager, Sector Planning, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Barrington Hibbert.

The workshop concludes on March 27.