UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Dr Elsie Laurence Chounoune presents a certificate to a MSME participant in Jamaica

In a bid to strengthen the country’s resilience to natural disasters, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country office in  Jamaica, with the support of the Sandals Foundation conducted a series of training workshops targeting owners of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) who are among the hardest hit during hurricanes. The Workshops executed by the UNDP and The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) started July 16. 

The two-day workshops, the first of which took place July 16 -17 at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, sensitized business owners of MSMEs on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and contingency planning. At the end of the training workshop, participants were expected to be better able to apply the basic disaster risk reduction and contingency planning techniques in the operation of their businesses.  The next workshop took place July 25 – 26 at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay

Sandals Foundation Executive Director, Heidi Clarke, said, while the Foundation is always willing to do whatever it can to help disaster affected residents across the region get back on their feet, it is very critical that they also help to strengthen their preparation to minimize the devastation.

“From our disaster relief efforts across the region, we have seen first-hand the crippling effect that hurricanes and storms can have on an unprepared small business.  We are therefore very happy to be supporting a programme that is working to prepare MSMEs to combat and minimize the devastating effects of these natural disasters, should they occur.”

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Dr. Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, said the workshops targeting MSMEs were necessary as these businesses are important drivers of equity, economic growth and sustained development in Jamaica.

“These enterprises create and retain wealth, generate employment, and provide support for private sector growth and expansion but are also particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of natural disasters. The risk of these small businesses not being able to reopen their doors after a natural disaster is great and something that cannot be ignored. As such, strengthening their capacity and laying a foundation of resilience now is essential for preventing and reducing the impact of future natural hazards.” It is estimated that classified tax-paying MSMEs account for 97.6% of all classified and registered enterprises in Jamaica. 

The training workshop series was preceded by a Training of Trainers series, the objective of which was to improve the capacity of parish disaster coordinators and volunteers from across the Jamaica with the requisite knowledge and skills to strengthen the planning by MSMEs. The workshops will include mini lectures and presentations, group and individual activities, simulation exercises and case studies.

Although Jamaica was spared the devastating effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the destruction caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dean is 2007 resulted in damages totaling over J$48 billion. 

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