JIS News

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  • The Disaster Risk Management Act was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 7.
  • The Act seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness, emergency management and response processes and mechanisms.
  • Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, noted that the Bill reflects modern, strategic, administrative and legal approaches consistent with current best practices.

The Disaster Risk Management Act, which seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness, emergency management and response processes and mechanisms, was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 7.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, noted that the Bill reflects modern, strategic, administrative and legal approaches consistent with current best practices.

“It transcends the emphasis on preparedness and captures the comprehensive disaster risk reduction aspects of contemporary disaster management practices. This Bill also replaces the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Act of 1993,” Mr. Arscott said.

He noted that the Bill provides for the identification and description of high risk areas, especially vulnerable areas, and for the necessary actions to be taken with regard to any area so designated.

He added the Bill also provides for a framework where persons can be evacuated as a preventative measure. It also facilitates the establishment of a National Disaster Fund.

The Disaster Risk Management Bill seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness, emergency management and response processes and mechanisms, through a range of measures.

These include: according recognition to existing organizational structures, such as the National Disaster Committee, Parish Disaster Committees, and Zonal Committees, with their roles and functions clearly established; provisions to legally evacuate persons identified as being at risk, based on their location; identifying and earmarking high risk areas as especially vulnerable areas, and outlining the necessary steps to be taken in respect of such areas.

In his remarks, Minister of State for Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Luther Buchanan noted that the legislation promotes the administration of disaster risk reduction and the administration of disaster management efforts.

“It gives life to a disaster management system, which is geared at disaster mitigation and prevention. The disaster Bill highlights this government’s commitment to implementing a disaster management framework and elevates disaster management to being a policy priority,” Mr. Buchanan said.

He added that the Bill legitimizes a coordinated approach to disaster management in Jamaica.

The legislation was passed with four amendments and will be sent to the Senate for its approval.