JIS News

The Government of Jamaica is moving to repeal the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Act and replace it with the Disaster Management and Mitigation Law, which will provide for improved measures to mitigate against loss of life and property in the event of disasters.
Local Government and Environment Minister, Dean Peart made the disclosure during his contribution to the 2006/2007 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 26.
He told the House that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has been proactive in supporting disaster management, and has forged alliances with community groups across the island.
Outlining the strategies pursued, Minister Peart informed that a number of zonal communities were established, several simulation exercises were conducted, and new shelters were identified for vulnerable communities.
Additionally, ODPEM conducted an earthquake drill in New Kingston last month, while various workshops as well as training and sensitisation sessions were hosted and a range of material was distributed, which led to several projects getting underway with financing provided by various funding agencies. Despite making a number of strides, the Minister said the agency faced challenges in respect of formulating policies that would reduce potential loss of life and property, minimise suffering and disruption caused by disaster, and creating a motivating and safe working environment for the employees of ODPEM.
As such, he said, the Ministry was designing policies to: ensure that vulnerable communities in Jamaica were covered by emergency management and response plans that can be easily implemented; facilitate development of national, regional, parish and local capabilities to plan and prepare for the impact of hazards; and incorporate hazard information into the planning process to influence land use development.
Other goals, he added, were enhancing emergency plans and policies; improving emergency storage capacity and distribution capabilities; and developing a comprehensive national hazard database at the local level.
“To achieve the overall objectives, we will continue to target the community-based organisations, schools, disaster and response agencies, the media and regional/international funding and disaster agencies,” Minister Peart noted.