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Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, has called for more investment in disaster management.
Mr. Jackson said that, while the agency has been promoting disaster risk mitigation particularly at the community level, as one of its priority areas, there needs to be more investing in macro-economic mitigation infrastructure, such as coastal sea defence.
“We’re talking about even climate change, revisiting that, shoring up our unstable slopes where there is a link road to the agricultural farms.for them to be able to bring produce out to the markets, and also addressing risk mitigation in the upper watersheds. Those are projects and programmes that we need to see greater investment in,” he said.
The Director General was addressing the first of a two-day national workshop on disaster risk indicators for Jamaica, put on by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the IDB, at the Institute’s headquarters, in Kingston, on Monday (August 23).
He pointed out that other priority areas of the agency included community capacity resilience; multi-hazard mapping and risk analysis; institutional strengthening; training with local authorities and disaster co-ordinators at the parish level; and partnership strengthening, including working with the Meteorological Service and the Earthquake Unit to enhance early warning systems.
He said that the agency is currently working on several projects dealing with disaster risk reduction. This includes the Natural Hazards Management in Urban Coastal Areas project, funded by the IDB and aimed at addressing disaster risk mitigation in priority areas.
“We have established a community vulnerability ranking methodology, which aims at identifying which of the 200 plus to 300 plus vulnerable communities we ought to target first, by virtue of the extent of their vulnerability,” Mr. Jackson added.
He noted that the organisation, through its establishment of a preparedness and vulnerability response core, has also sought to engage the youth in the “whole landscape” of disaster risk reduction.
“We are very much trying to play up a number of elements of risk reduction in a number of the work plan areas that we are embarking on trying to move away from this thing that disaster risk reduction is a response agenda. We are trying to be a little bit more comprehensive in how we approach the disaster risk reduction mandate,” the Director General said.
The workshop was held to present to national authorities, the results of a country risk evaluation of Jamaica. This is in order to enhance knowledge and awareness of country disaster risk, and to facilitate sector dialogue with the Government of Jamaica on disaster risk management prioritisation and opportunities for IDB support. The assessment was undertaken by the IDB.