Nevis Disaster Manager calls for greater government attention to regional catastrophes

Director of the Nevis Disaster Management Office Mr. Lester Blackett said it was no longer sufficient for governments to settle for disaster management strategies which spoke simply to preparation just prior to disasters or post disaster recovery efforts.

Mr. Blackette was at the time delivering remarks at the official launch of the Organisation of American States funded Disaster Management and Mitigation Project, Nevis, at Long Point on June 09, 2010. He said the time had come for governments to broaden the scope of their disaster management efforts which included strategies that enhanced hazard mitigation activities and programmes and policies in all sectors.

Such strategies are aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the population and economic activities to natural hazards…It is essential to understand that the challenge of natural disaster risk reduction is a hemispheric one and therefore requires the fullest attention of political leaders,” he said.

According to Mr. Blackett, the 14 month multi-agency and multi-sectoral project which would have direct involvement from the Departments of Economic Planning and Statistics, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Environment, Tourism and Education would enable the Nevis Island Administration to more accurately assess the impact of natural disasters on the island’s economy and the citizen’s livelihood and provide baseline data and useful information for future events.

He said the project would streamline disaster management on Nevis by focusing on pre and post disaster management processes which would include mitigation; impact assessment capabilities; focused legislation; regulatory standards, evaluation and enhancement of organisational capabilities; public awareness and the production of disaster management plans.

A number of training workshops and consultations will be held as part of the project and it is our intention to invite participation from various stakeholders in St. Kitts. Dome consultation has already occurred with the National Emergency Management Agency. We are in the process of communicating with regional and international organisations for their provision of technical assistance or support for the implementation of the project.

These agencies are well positioned and can provide additional technical support that covers various aspects of the project. Some of these agencies also have recently launched projects that are targeted to St. Kitts and Nevis that will provide similar objectives and further support to the OAS Project. These include the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB),” he said.

Mr. Blackett explained that the agencies would be involved in various components of the Project. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency would be involved in an island Disaster Plan and the local adaptation of the Regional Tourism Disaster Strategy product by the OAS and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation as well as the development of the school based education in disaster management.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean would be involved in economic evaluation/ assessment following a disaster and the CDB would be involved in training and implementation of the Natural Hazard Impact Assessments and creation of standards, guidelines and regulations for the Nevis Physical Development Plan and legislation.

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