Greater Awareness of Geo-Hazards Stressed


The need for greater awareness of the impact of natural hazards on national development, and a strategic approach to dealing with these were underscored at a workshop staged by the Geological Society of Jamaica (GSJ) at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Tuesday (November 27).
The workshop was part of the GSJ’s activities in observance of Geo-Sciences for Development Week, which started on November 26 under the theme: ‘GeoHazards – Planning, Management and Insurance.’ It brought together stakeholders for discussions on the implications of geohazards for Jamaica.
Energy, Mining & Telecommunications Minister, Clive Mullings, who formally opened the workshop, noted that the theme was consistent with the government’s commitment to sensitizing the nation on the potential hazards associated with improper environmental practices.
“Global warming is a real threat to human existence, and we need to make every effort to equip ourselves with the knowledge to make informed decisions, particularly at the national leadership level,” Minister Mullings underscored.
He said the Government was committed to partnering with organizations, such as the GSJ, to “ensure that we are best prepared to deal with the global and environmental challenges of the present and the future.”
He pledged that the Government would spare no effort in ensuring that the country had the necessary resources to inform all Jamaicans about the potential impact of dangerous environmental practices.
“I want a greater consciousness of issues such as flood water monitoring and control, urban geo-hazards, and other occurrences that impact on our environment. Proper planning and implementation as well as more public education are, therefore, critical,” Mr. Mullings stressed.
General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Earl Jarrett cited the need for the development of a comprehensive hazard map to guide the usage of land, thereby reducing some of the risks faced.
“Mapping should be done within a framework to drive national planning. This would help to coordinate how land should be used across the country, and should include areas of major susceptibility to geo-hazards,” Mr. Jarrett explained. Additionally, he said there is need for a “robust disaster management process.”
Mr. Jarrett called for greater effectiveness in our communication processes on the issue of natural hazards. “We need an effective strategy to teach people about hazards,” he said.
The workshop, which comprised four sessions, featured presentations on a range of areas including: flood water control & management, urban geo-hazards in Jamaica, disaster modeling on the insurance industry, and hindsight models and contemporary scenarios.
President of the GSJ, Parris Lyew-Ayee, Sr. disclosed that there will be a field trip to south coast areas affected by Hurricane Dean on December 1. This will be led by experts from the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management (ODPEM), and the Mines & Geology Division of the Ministry of Energy, Mining, & Telecommunications.
“This is aimed at highlighting the lessons to be learnt from the hurricane, and preventative actions to be taken in the future,” he explained.

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