The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) which does not currently certify persons it trains in the many community training programmes it offers, plans to pursue this in the near future, according to the Director General of the organisation, Ronald Jackson, who spoke at a Think Tank session at the Jamaica Information Service, 58a Half Way Tree Road, on March 2.
“ODPEM does not currently have the remit to certify persons in these specialised areas,” he said, while referring to training in building construction under its just completed Tropical Storm Gustav Recovery Programme.
“That is not to say we are not moving in that direction. Currently there is an initiative being worked out between ourselves and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and HEART National Training Agency, to develop a certification programme for safe housing for artisan and self help builders. It is our intention to bring on board all those persons who have been beneficiaries,” Mr. Jackson told the JIS.
He explained that the training which was offered to persons who assisted in retrofitting roofs damaged by Tropical Storm Gustav in August 2008, was basic. He said however, that it was ODPEM’s belief that the persons who received the initial training could benefit from an upgraded programme.
“We feel that there are a lot of women builders who can benefit from a much evolved programme and we are looking at that in a more programmatic way, and we will bring that on board soon,” Mr. Jackson added.
ODPEM received £500,000 from the United Kingdom based Department for International Development (DFID) to help pay for the retrofitting of the roofs of 1,500 houses, which were severely damaged during the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav in August 2008. Community members were required, as part of the effort to provide ‘sweat equity’, in the form of labour and to supply artisans to assist with the work.
ODPEM, along with the HEART Trust National Training Agency, also trained the participants in safe roof construction techniques.
“What we are looking at is a builder’s certification. We are looking at something you can take as part of your CV, something which allows you to receive additional credits that take you one step further. That is where we want to go with a number of the things that we are doing,” Mr. Jackson added.
“We are going to be working with the University of the West Indies’ Disaster Risk Reduction Centre to look at some of the programmes we currently offer, to see how we can do more professionalization of the programmers, so people can use them going forward,” Mr. Jackson said.
ODPEM is Jamaica’s highly regarded disaster preparedness and mitigation agency, and is ‘committed to leading the process of reducing the impact of disaster on Jamaica through Comprehensive Disaster Management’.
CONTACT: WARREN WINT