Young people representing schools and youth advocate groups across Jamaica and the Caribbean, on Thursday (December 6), participated in the Youth Session of the seventh annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management, at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James.
The Youth Session, which was held under the theme: 'Youth – Champions for Disaster Resilience’, formed part of the activities for the five-day conference, organized by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), between December 3 and 7, under the theme: ‘Caribbean Disaster Management – Building Disaster Resilience …A Shared Responsibility’.
Speaking at the youth session, Regional Advisor in the United States Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), John Kimbrough, said young people have an integral role to play in assisting their communities to prepare for the eventualities of natural and man-made disasters.
“One of the main pillars of the OFDA and USAID strategic plan for disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean is capacity building; and what better way to promote disaster risk reduction capacity building than with our young people,” he said.
Youth representative from the National Trust of Anguilla, Michael Matthew, in his presentation, asserted that young people in countries affiliated with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) have not only been educated about disaster management, but have participated in activities initiated by and through organizations such as the Red Cross.
These, he outlined, include: serving as volunteer respondents to disasters; involvement in training as part of community disaster response teams undertaking vulnerability and capacity assessments; as well as participation in regional and international disaster management response engagements.
Lecturer at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies (UWI), Charmaine Henry, who chaired the session, told JIS News that the engagement achieved its goal of providing young people with a medium that enabled them to express their opinions and make suggestions on how best they and other stakeholders can best communicate the importance of disaster preparedness within communities.