Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, has called for infrastructural development to be linked to protection of the environment.
He was addressing the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Mandeville, on July 27, at the Golf View Hotel, in Mandeville.
Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, addressing the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Mandeville at the Golf View Hotel on July 27.
Mr. Jackson noted noted that Jamaicans have not been good stewards of the environment.
“We are removing trees and affecting sensitive areas; we are destroying the eco system,” he said.
He added that comprehensive disaster management should not be taken out of development.
“As we seek to develop and establish economic sustainability, we have to look at the issues that will challenge that agenda, and some of the issues that challenge that agenda, relate to how we treat the natural environment and disturb that natural balance,” Mr. Jackson said.
He stated that public awareness on the issue of where people construct buildings and other activities that lead to erosion of natural buffers that protect communities, must be at the community level, as that is where emergencies strike first.
The ODEPM boss pointed out that, currently, there are a number of community mitigation programmes dealing with natural hazard management for coastal towns.
He said these programmes involved putting together information for local authorities to inform themselves when granting permits for development. The information protects investments and protects lives.
“Our focus is on prevention, if we can protect or minimise communities from hazards, we will be spending less dollars on response. We are going to continue on the community resilience programmes, because we need to focus more on mitigations, than to have knee jerk reactions,” Mr. Jackson said.