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  • Acting Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson, says the country’s senior have a critical role to play in building disaster resilience communities.
  • He said they possess extensive knowledge and experience that could be called upon in the disaster preparedness and response strategy.
  • Mr. Thompson was speaking at the opening ceremony for International Day for Disaster Reduction at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on October 13.

Acting Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson, says the country’s seniors have a critical role to play in building disaster-resilient communities.

He said they possess extensive knowledge and experience that could be called upon in the disaster preparedness and response strategy.

“Older people have a significant role to play in what we do. They have a wealth of experience; we have older people, who have been involved in risk management, and have been involved in climate change and comprehensive development. So it is good to pull on them for knowledge and effort. They do pull a lot of respect in a lot of the communities,” he noted.

Mr. Thompson was speaking at the opening ceremony for International Day for Disaster Reduction at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston on October 13.

He noted that older people are also among the vulnerable groups during times of disaster, requiring that special efforts be put in place to ensure that they are safe.

He informed that policies, plans and programmes, focusing on the older population will continually be put in place to ensure that members within this group are protected.

As such, the two-day conference will include the signing of a United Nations Charter as it relates to the aging population and to bring collective knowledge on disaster risk reduction in general with a specific focus on the aged population.

People aged over 60 constitute 11 per cent of the global population. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of older persons would have doubled to two billion or 22 per cent of the world population.  In Jamaica, over 350,000 persons are over the age of 60.

The International Day for Disaster Reduction is a UN observance, to highlight how people and communities are reducing their risk to disasters and raise awareness about its importance.

This year’s observance is focussed on older people, including their needs, and what they can contribute in terms of better planning and understanding of disaster risk in their communities.

Other speakers at the event included: UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Arun Kashyap; Mission Director (Acting), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Jamaica, Nichole Graber Simmons; Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Jamaica, Jesús Orús Báguena; Executive Director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson; Caribbean Representative, HelpAge, Jeffrey James; and Head of Outreach and Advocacy Section, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Jerry Velasquez.

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