OECS Secretariat receives US$490,000 to begin new project on Disaster Management in the OECS

(OECS Secretariat, Castries, Saint Lucia 08 05 2010) – The OECS Secretariat has secured US$ 400,000 from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and US$90,000 from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to begin a new project focused on mainstreaming disaster risk management in OECS Member States. The new project was launched on Thursday May 6th at the headquarters of the OECS Secretariat at Morne Fortune, Castries.

During the brief ceremony to launch the project, Mr Norman Cameron, Division Chief, Project Services Division of the CDB noted that the Bank had since the 1970s, provided more than US$5.0 million in grants for direct emergency relief activities related to disasters in the Caribbean region. In addition, “the bank had also provided well over US$200 million in immediate response and rehabilitation loans from its concessionary resources” he said.

More recently, the CDB began to focus its support on both post and pre-disaster assistance, in particular emphasizing the need to build community resilience to risk reduction. In this regard, Mr Cameron remarked that the CDB is particularly sensitive to the susceptibility level of the Eastern Caribbean islands, particularly given that the islands had been identified as among the most vulnerable in the world to natural disasters. Such vulnerability, he emphasized, was compounded by high population growth, poverty, improper land use planning and limited capacities of the countries to generally cope with disaster events. “The challenges faced by these states are to integrate risk reduction measures into every sector of their economies so as to build resilience at all levels of society thereby increasing their ability to cope with disasters when they occur.”

Dr Cassandra Rogers, Disaster Risk Management Lead Specialist, of the IDB stressed the importance of having a collective and proactive response to reducing the region’s risk to disasters. Referring to the magnitude of the challenges facing the region in relation to disasters, Dr Rogers spoke of the insufficient application to proper development planning by governments of the region. The IDB she said sees disaster risk management as sustainable development and promotes the mainstreaming of Disaster Risk Management into national planning and economic development. It is for this reason that the IDB, she observed, “has already financed country risk evaluations in five countries in the region.”

“The US$400,000.00 being made available to the OECS through the CDB is non-reimbursable”, Dr Cassandra revealed, and the IDB anticipates that at the end of the project, the low cost methods in disaster risk management that are introduced to targeted communities in the OECS will be used as a model for the wider Caribbean.

The project is part of the wider thrust of the OECS on Disaster Management and will seek to contribute to the broad vision on Disaster Response and Risk Reduction of the OECS Secretariat to build the Secretariat’s ability to place emphasis on developing existing core competencies and in assisting Member States in building national and community level resilience to disasters.

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