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Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, has called on Jamaicans to get involved in the disaster management process.
He noted that for far too long, people have seen disaster preparedness as an “ODPEM thing.”
“Disaster management must be a way of life for all of us. What I want to challenge us to do is to get in the game. We must see what we can do as individuals. We must see what kind of information we can gather at our own individual level to be able to significantly reduce the threat of vulnerability,” Mr. Jackson stated.
He was addressing yesterday’s (June 24) hurricane preparedness seminar at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston to sensitize persons about disaster management procedures. The event was held in collaboration with Digicel Jamaica.
Mr. Jackson said that while disasters could not be fully prevented “what we can do together is to reduce the level of impact and ensure that we can cope and recover significantly.”
According to the Director General, Jamaica is located in a vulnerable part of the world, and over the last 25 to 30 years, there has been an increase in weather-related events affecting the country. He noted that with climate change, it is said that these events will become more frequent and more devastating.
“We must now see disaster management as more than just as matter of dealing with relief and welfare operations. We need to examine what it is we are doing in the before phase – the way we practice our settlements, the way we practice our waste management, the way we practice farming, mining, and the overall use of the resources that there are for us to exploit,” he pointed out.
“We can exploit these resources, but we can do so in such a way that the same resources will continue to serve us and our future generation. All it requires is will.at the household level and all the way to the highest level of our political hierarchy. We cannot continue to sustain losses associated with (Hurricane) Ivan in the region of $40 billion, we cannot continue to sustain losses in relation to Hurricane Dean in the region of $22 billion,” he stated.
Mr. Jackson went on to praise Digicel Jamaica for its commitment to the National Disaster Management Programme “and to the area of preparedness and risk mitigation, to building resilient communities, and we are hoping that we can take this seminar across the length and breadth of Jamaica, even on a regional basis.”
“What we have here is truly an example of public/private sector partnership at work. We are building a platform, a partnership, in which government, the private sector, and civil society, will work together in disaster risk reduction,” Mr. Jackson added.
The hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year.