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KINGSTON — Director General, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, has stressed the need for changes in development and planning, if Jamaica is to be adequately prepared to contend with and address issues related to climate change.

Speaking at ODPEM’s hurricane preparedness month press conference at the agency’s Haining Road, New Kingston head office last week, Mr. Jackson said some of the areas for consideration include environmental management, development control, and land use planning.

“These must become the cornerstone and platform for Jamaica to go forward and deal with the risk of climate change and…variability. The predictions have exceeded what (was) identified several years ago. The sea level is rising…and so we now need to use the information that is available to us to refine our land use plans, to do anticipatory planning and put in the necessary land use measures; and mitigation and maintenance must become a feature of our way forward,” he stated.

The Director General further pointed to the need to adopt safe and sustainable garbage disposal practices, noting that “the business of dumping garbage in our waterways cannot continue”.

“While we agree that we must improve the infrastructure for waste collection, the converse is not to dump in our drainage ways. It is only making the communities more vulnerable (and) it is only making the infrastructure more vulnerable to the effects of scouring and flooding,” he contended.

Regarding hurricane preparedness month in May, Mr. Jackson said the annual observation is important in “sending a clear message” to the public of the need to be adequately prepared for the six-month long tropical Atlantic hurricane season, spanning June 1 and November 30.

“The public awareness process remains a very important part of our preparedness mechanism, and we have strengthened the media relations, in that regard, through workshops during the course of this year. We have also improved our internal and external capacity,” he said.

Mr. Jackson also informed that extensive training has been undertaken with the National Response Team, made up of a number of critical government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs).

“We have been doing business continuity planning and strategy development with private sector entities, because they also need to put in place a heightened…plan (for recovery),” he added.

 

By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter