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Experience has now shown clearly that countries like Jamaica must mainstream disaster risk reduction if they are to achieve key development goals. While many know the human misery and crippling economic losses resulting from disasters, what few realize is that this devastation can be prevented through disaster risk reduction initiatives.
As such, UNDP, national and regional partners are collaborating to implement a major shift in policy during 2010. Although support for pre- and post-disaster activities continues as part of its mandate, UNDP embarked in 2009 on developing a comprehensive programme of support for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction. Working in partnership with the Office for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Jamaica's national disaster management office, UNDP is developing a comprehensive approach to Disaster Risk Reduction that will tackle issues at both National and Local levels and support achievement of ODPEM's comprehensive matrix of priorities and its Strategic National Plan.
In addition the new approach will build on the core aspirations of the Hyogo Framework for Action - the key instrument for implementing disaster risk reduction, adopted by the Member States of the United Nations. Its overarching goal is to build resilience of nations and communities to disasters, by achieving significant reduction of disaster losses by 2015.
The mainstreaming strategy will support the achievement of Jamaica's National Development Plan - Vision 2030, and the Caribbean's Comprehensive Disaster Management Plan. A number of key activities are being proposed including the development and Implementation of a National Hazard Risk Reduction Plan; development of Local Level Hazard Action Plans; developing capacity at local level to analyse and use pre-impact data, and assess post-impact damage; reducing communities' exposure to risk through a knowledge and awareness-building video and stabilising slopes to reduce vulnerability using coconut and other appropriate technology.
As part of this new thrust, in September 2009, UNDP partnered with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and CADRI (Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiatives) to pilot the CADRI workshop on Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction. Participants included ODPEM's key partners - Ministry of Education, Jamaica Red Cross and the Social Development Commission; parish Disaster Coordinators. Key contributions were made by Jeremy Collymore, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and by the UWI's Unit for Sustainable Development.
The workshop provided a basic orientation to disaster risk and how it can be managed in the context of sustainable development, and familiarized participants with disaster risk reduction concepts and guidance, including the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), and the Comprehensive Disaster Management programme developed in the Caribbean.
"The workshop really builds on participants' existing knowledge and should go a far way to assist them to relate disaster risk reduction issues to their day-to-day work responsibilities" said Alan Ross, UNDP Disaster Risk Reduction consultant.
Such was the enthusiasm for the workshop as a key tool in sensitizing people and institutions to the risk reduction concepts that a regional training of trainers' workshop is now planned for June 2010 as a first step in rolling out a regional training programme. This has been initiated by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and eagerly embraced by CADRI which now aims to finalize workshop materials by the end of May 2010.