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A national strategy is being developed by the Government to ensure the continuity of its operation and that of state entities, in the event Jamaica is severely impacted by major natural disasters, such as an earthquake or intense hurricane.

The plan is being facilitated under the 2016/17 Jamaica-Mexico Bilateral Cooperation Agreement, which entails the implementation of projects in 13 areas, including agriculture, the environment and disaster prevention.

Its development is being spearheaded by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), with technical assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Jamaica.

The UNDP’s input has facilitated a scoping mission of an initial 14 state entities by a special consultant to assess their status and state of readiness, with the initial report outlining proposals and recommendations slated to be submitted to ODPEM shortly.

Details were unveiled during a Jamaica-Mexico Bilateral Cooperation Programme stakeholders meeting at ODPEM’s head office in New Kingston, on  June 23.

Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who has portfolio responsibility for disaster preparedness and emergency management, emphasized the importance of the plan’s development in light of the fact that a number of the Government’s key governance agencies were located close to the Kingston harbour.

These, he said, include: Parliament; the Bank of Jamaica; Supreme Court and Court of Appeal; Petrojam refinery; and Kingston Public and Victoria Jubilee Hospitals.

Mr. McKenzie said Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has also emphasized the need for securing and preserving Jamaica’s governance framework during a natural disaster, adding that he gave a charge for this to be an integral part of Jamaica’s disaster preparedness protocol.

In this regard, the Minister expressed gratitude for the stakeholder support and inputs facilitating the strategy’s development, and gave the Government’s undertaking for its completion.