JIS News

Residents of Pedro River in St. Ann are now better prepared against flood disasters having benefited from a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded disaster management strengthening project.
The project is being implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and involves the installation of equipment to monitor rainfall flow so as to effectively implement mitigation plans. The devices put in place are: two rainfall intensity data logging gauges, two manual gauges, one river gauge data logger, and two sets of community flood gauges.
As part of the project, a number of ‘Flood Early Warning System’ exercises are to be carried out to sensitize community members about the project and how to use the equipment. The first sensitization meeting was held on March 22 as part of activities to mark World Water Day.
The Water Resources Authority also participated in the meeting, with officers from the agency demonstrating the use of the water gauges.ODPEM Director General, Dr. Barbara Carby, pointed out that flooding was the most frequent disaster affecting Jamaica, resulting in the loss of lives and property and persons needed to be prepared in order to reduce the devastating impact of the deluge.
She said the best way to prepare was for communities to take action in a planned manner, identifying what needed to be done and by whom, and where and when the action was to be done.
It was crucial, Dr. Carby pointed out, that flood-prone communities put disaster plans in place, including keeping gullies and drains clean and storing emergency items such as food, shelter and clothing. “We expect to get accurate information from your community in order to help put things in place, but you should be able to help yourselves for at least the first four days before we would get to you,” she stated.
On the subject of World Water Day, the Director General observed that water was one of the very few elements where too much or too little was a problem, “so as we forecast the future on the global scale, the management of water is critical in the process, therefore we need to manage our water resources well, in order not to have a water crises”.
The community-based disaster management project is designed to support the Government’s Disaster Management Programme by strengthening capacity at the national and community levels to conduct vulnerability reduction programmes.
The project is being implemented in selected flood prone areas in the parishes of St. Ann, St. James, Clarendon, Portland and St. Mary, utilizing lessons learnt from disaster mitigation initiatives used in communities in the Rio Cobre Basin in St. Catherine and the Rio Grande Valley in Portland.

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