CDEMA’s drive to advance disaster resilience

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has said it will continue to advocate for the passage of key legislation in its member states, to advance disaster resilience.

Executive Director of CDEMA, Ronald Jackson, told a news conference on Friday to mark the start of this year’s hurricane season, that the region remains vulnerable to natural disasters, and such legislation is necessary.

He said Barbados remains one of the countries to implement the model Comprehensive Disaster Management Legislation, which seeks to address the role of all arms of the state in this process.

“We have had to consider that within the context of legislation, one is good practice, as we’ve seen some countries they talk about the ESFs, the Emergency Support Functions, where they legislate which institutions in government are required to deliver certain services in support of a National Coordination Mechanism.

“We’ve had to go that way kind of broadly across the region because there is great variability in the extent of the support that the national actors provide within the coordination mechanism,” Jackson said.

He noted that beyond legislation, there is need for constant exercising of this coordination mechanism to ensure that there is greater understanding and appreciation for roles and responsibilities.

According to Jackson, a number of other issues must be addressed including national disaster funds.

“I have been paying attention to the local media, where the Ministry of Finance has given an opinion on how it would seek to address this particular matter in relation to Barbados.  It goes to the heart of how we will diversify the tools we are using to address the risk financing cost, pre and post disasters.  And that is also expressed in legislation.”

He stated that the issue of evacuation also needs attention in Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

“And we would even go as far as to say that the conversation around evacuation should not just be a matter that is addressed within the context of the legislation, but should also seek to engage those vulnerable populations who will be called on to evacuate.  They have to be a part of the dialogue so there’s a greater understanding beyond law and beyond regulations as to what are the challenges, the conditions, and how the state will be able to work in concert with the communities to effect those evacuation requirements,” Jackson stated.

He noted that the business of disaster management should not only be the responsibility of the Department of Emergency Management, but rather a “whole of government” approach is needed, and must include the private sector, “both in terms of their investment and the resilience of their infrastructure, and their advocacy among the state agencies and among themselves, for doing the right things”.

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