- In these times of increasing challenge to the economies and societies of the world from intense weather systems and patterns, the observance of International Day for Disaster Reduction assumes special significance.
- Since1989, the United Nations has identified this Day as a means to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
- At a personal and community level, it is a day on which we specially encourage every citizen to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and countries.
Message to mark International Day for Disaster reduction 2015 from Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott M.P.
In these times of increasing challenge to the economies and societies of the world from intense weather systems and patterns, the observance of International Day for Disaster Reduction assumes special significance. Since1989, the United Nations has identified this Day as a means to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
At a personal and community level, it is a day on which we specially encourage every citizen to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and countries.
The Government of Jamaica has been doing its part to construct and enhance a sustainable culture of disaster prevention and reduction. The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) serves as our national disaster preparedness Agency, and continues to provide tireless service to the people of Jamaica at every level. Through long-standing bilateral and multilateral relationships, Jamaica’s international co-operation with the Government of Japan and the World Bank led to the implementation of our most recent disaster prevention and knowledge transfer initiative – the US$2.3 million Management of Slope Stability in Communities (MoSSaiC) project in July this year.
This effort followed the latest manifestation of the Government’s drive to ensure a comprehensive legal framework for the continuous effort to ensure disaster reduction and mitigation. The Disaster Risk Management Act, which came into force on April 20, 2015, reflects modern strategic, administrative and legal approaches consistent with current best practices, and captures the Mitigation and Risk Reduction aspects of contemporary disaster management. The Act also reflects our international obligations as a signatory country to the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction Agreement, and the accompanying Hyogo Framework of Action, which requires that countries should develop “policies, legislation and institutional frameworks” for disaster risk reduction.
Outside of these obligations however, implementing sound, contemporary policies and mechanisms to ensure disaster risk reduction makes good economic and social sense and every citizen benefits from it. It makes even greater sense for us in Jamaica as a Small Island Developing State, with an unwelcome history of loss from natural disasters. The World Bank’s Natural Disaster Hotspots Report ranks Jamaica as the country with the third greatest exposure to multiple hazards in the world, and research by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), shows that floods and landslides are Jamaica’s most frequently recurring hazards.
Between 2001 and 2012, Jamaica experienced 11 storms, including 5 major hurricanes and several floods, which cumulatively caused loss and damage amounting to approximately J$128.5 billion. Damage associated with hurricanes, floods and drought has cost Jamaica an annual average of 2.7 % of GDP since 2001. Over the past 20 years, Jamaica’s disasters have resulted in cumulative costs of more than US$1 billion.
We have experienced the devastation of natural disasters, and are therefore completely committed at the policy and implementation levels to the drive to ensure disaster reduction in Jamaica.
I salute you on this International Disaster Reduction Day, and urge you to take this year’s theme “Knowledge for Life” seriously. Disaster reduction is not only a government and agency function, but your personal responsibility for your well-being.
Noel Arscott MP