JIS News

Plans are advanced for the development of a National Hazard Mitigation Policy to improve the country’s disaster preparedness and rehabilitative mechanisms.
Minister of Land and Environment, Dean Peart, in his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 21, explained that the policy would entail an assessment of the different types of hazards to which communities were prone and the development of plans, programmes, and projects to decrease the magnitude of these vulnerabilities. He argued that the establishment of an ongoing process was the most important part of any mitigation policy, and to best address disasters, such a process should become a routine part of the daily functioning of any country.
The National Hazard Mitigation Policy is set to go before Cabinet next month, Minister Peart informed, adding that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) would be the agency responsible for its execution.
“The major focus of this hazard mitigation policy will be to make disaster mitigation a way of life for each and every resident of this country,” he explained, “so that when one considers where to build his or her house for example, one of the first questions that will come to mind is, ‘is this location safe’?”
The Minister said it was also important for builders to be educated as to the correct actions to take, to ensure that buildings were constructed safely. To this end, he indicated that there were plans to overhaul the Development Approval Process, as well as to undertake a review of the Building Code.
The Minister cautioned that persons squatting on hillsides, and those who dumped garbage in gullies, were engaging in practices that damaged the natural environment and has encouraged them to desist from such practices.