NEMA’s Disaster Management Mechanism to be Updated

Mrs. Telca Wallace, Districts Coordinator

ZIZ News…Feb. 5, 2013 — Recognising that vulnerability continues to accompany national development programmes in many Caribbean states, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is collaborating with CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency) to strengthen and to increase the capacity of disaster response resources, in the Federation.

As much of the development is centred within a mile of the coastlines of both St. Kitts and Nevis, exposing persons and structures to storm surge and other coastal hazards, local and regional disaster management officials responded to the need for a plan that prepares responders for impacts that provide little or no prior warning.

According to CDEMA’s Deputy Executive Director, Elizabeth Riley, the growing number of major hurricanes and the successive coastal destruction provides an impetus for the integration of an evacuation policy and plan into Early Warning Systems.

“Hence the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Coordinating Unit (CDEMA CU) has embarked on the development of a Model Evacuation Policy and Model Evacuation Plan for CDEMA Participating States,” Ms. Riley said.

In accordance with CDEMA’s intervention, the CU will support the initiation of adapting this Model to St. Kitts and Nevis by convening a consultative workshop in Nevis on February 14th, 2013. Disaster Management policy makers and relevant Permanent Secretaries, Department Heads and national stakeholders with evacuation matters under their purview, will be invited to participate. The workshop is to be facilitated by Ms. Alison King-Joseph, an Independent Environmental Consultant to CDEMA, who is a Civil Engineer and former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning, Development, Environment and Housing, in St. Lucia.

Two other exercises, dealing with Message Handling within the NEOC (National Emergency Operations Centre) on February 11th and 12th at NEMA HQ, and Training for Trainers of the updated CDEMA Community Preparedness Programmes Manual, from February 11th to 13th, 2013, at Ocean Terrace Inn; will precede the fore mentioned workshop.

In October of last year, Disaster Managers from St. Kitts and Nevis were trained in EOC procedures as part of a project to update the National Plan. During the training, a need to increase the capacity of message handlers within the NEOC and the Nevis EOC, was acknowledged by participants and facilitators alike.

Carl Herbert, NDC

At the time of the training, the National Plan had been under review since 2010, as a result of a CDEMA-led project, that was assisted by the ACP-EU’s (African, Caribbean, Pacific/European Union’s) Disaster Risk Management Sub-regional Programme. The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis was among ten (10) CDEMA Participating States, to receive assistance to engage in the process of National Disaster Plan Revision, as part of that mission.

Likewise, the need to train community residents in Disaster Management was recognised by NEMA’s Districts Coordinator, Mrs. Telca Wallace, as community volunteers under her direction, often rank among the most critical first responders in the event of a hazard impact. Fortuitously, the CDEMA CU was simultaneously developing a Model Community Preparedness Programme Toolkit, for use within the CDEMA Participating States.

Deputy Director Riley has said that the “Toolkit” will contain the equipment needed to assist communities in developing effective Community Disaster Preparedness Programmes.

“Train the Trainers…” is a Regional Workshop, with specific objectives including the development of a cadre of trainers to facilitate Community Preparedness Programmes,” Mrs. Wallace said. “It specifically targets some 45 community leaders from CDEMA’s Participating States and Coordinating Unit, who have demonstrated the ability to teach, in order to promote bye-in and tenure.”

National Disaster Coordinator (NDC), Carl Herbert said that the three exercises are timely and critical for promoting success in the Disaster Management community.

“The training is going to help to strengthen our systems, that is: the preparedness, the mitigation, response and recovery. For example, when we are looking at the issue of evacuation, especially as the Region is seeking to improve its tsunami readiness, it is important for us to sit around the table and to discuss these things among the key stakeholders, recognising the various vulnerabilities we have and especially considering our smallness as a country.”

The NDC concluded that the three activities will help to strengthen the whole disaster management programme in the country by building local capacity through actions that can be supported by analysis and review.

For more information, please call NEMA at 466-5100.

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