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United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Co-ordinator and Representative to Jamaica, Dr. Arun Kashyap, has underscored the need for governments to ensure that Disaster Risk Reduction is streamlined as an integral component in the equitable and inclusive development of their countries.

In a message to mark World Disaster Risk Reduction Day on October 13, under the theme: ‘Act Now, Save Later’, Dr. Kashyap noted that disaster risk reduction is a tool for “promoting inclusive local and national development,” that is also more equitable.

“In the absence of ownership and support for this innovative concept by the local communities and parishes, it would be difficult to mainstream disaster risk reduction as a development paradigm nationally. In keeping with the theme for the Day, disaster risk reduction is an investment in the present, to safeguard the future for our children and grandchildren,” he argued. 

The United Nations (UN) defines disaster risk reduction as a process undertaken through systematic efforts to analyze and manage the causal factors of disasters, including a reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.

In this regard, Dr. Kashyap highlighted the work of the various UN agencies, promoting disaster risk reduction in Jamaica. These, he pointed out, include the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and UNDP-Global Environment Facility (GEF).                                                                                                 

“We also recognize the work and support of our partner, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), in the promotion of disaster risk reduction at the national and local level,” he said.

“The United Nations Emergency Technical Team (UNETT) is working closely with ODPEM, Red Cross and (the) United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen disaster preparedness and responsiveness in line with the Inter Agency Response Plan of UN Jamaica, which complements and supports the national disaster plan. We anticipate that this strategic partnership will be a formidable support system that the national government can lean on for significant assistance before, during and after a disaster,” he added.

Dr. Kashyap cited  the success of the Eastern Caribbean Donor Group, which he pointed out has “provided valuable lessons,” which UN Jamaica is currently using to strengthen the Western Caribbean Donor Group (WCDG).

“We hope that the WCDG will provide opportunities for countries in the western Caribbean to work together and support each other, and further learn from countries in the eastern Caribbean. Such collaboration will further enhance each country’s ability to provide emergency assistance in a timely manner, and support efforts aimed at reducing vulnerabilities to natural disasters,” he said.