Jamaica Gets Risk Reduction Management Centre Thanks to South-South Initiative.

Jun 11, 2015

A Risk Reduction Management Centre for the parish of St Catherine, which has been established at the St Catherine Parish Council thanks to a South-South initiative facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been highlighted in UNDP’s 2014/2015 Annual Report.

 
The Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI), a regional project implemented by the UNDP Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, assisted Jamaica in setting up this centre.
 
Jamaica is highly vulnerable to various natural hazards including hurricanes, floods, landslides and droughts. The threats posed by these hazards are exacerbated by poverty, settlements in high risk areas and poor environmental management. Management and reduction of these risks are therefore very important, and while most Caribbean countries struggle to cope with natural hazards, one island in the region – Cuba – has an excellent track record in disaster preparedness and management.
 
One reason identified for the country’s success in managing risk and preparing for natural disasters is Cuba’s decade-old network of Risk Reduction Management Centres. These centres coordinate early warning systems, risk mapping, evacuation plans and provision of medical assistance to areas in need. At the heart of their work is a community focused approach.

The Caribbean Risk Management Initiative – a regional UNDP project covering five Caribbean countries - took disaster management specialists from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands to Cuba, to get first-hand knowledge about the Cuban centres and to set up their own Risk Reduction Management Centres. 
 
In Jamaica the Office Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the St Catherine Parish Council, supported by UNDP, have established the country’s first Risk Reduction Management Centre. Cuban-trained Jamaican specialists are mapping vulnerable areas and working with community leaders on disaster preparation and risk reduction. 

The project delivered practical results to support disaster risk reduction and management at the community level, including retrofitting of the crowded Planning Unit in the St Catherine Parish Council to enable it to house the risk reduction management centre. Two early warning points were established and secured to house response equipment for Community Disaster Risk Management Groups in Old Harbour Bay and Linstead. Training for community members in radio telecoms handling ensures there will be effective use of the VHF portable radios purchased for the two communities and the base radio for the parish council. Hazard assessments and asset mapping completed under the project contributed to the successful development and launch of the first parish based Disaster Risk Information Platform in Jamaica. 
 
“We don’t know when the next hurricane will hit but we are prepared” declares Ida Northover, a 78 year old community leader who has been trained in disaster preparedness under the initiative.

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