Tracy-Ann Hyman wants to make disaster mitigation everybody’s business

Thursday, January 24, 2013

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TRACY-ANN Hyman is one of Jamaica’s forward thinkers, helping to raise awareness and stimulate a positive change in social behaviour patterns and attitudes towards improved disaster mitigation practices.
The drive of this research specialist has been buoyed by her selection as Jamaica’s representative in the Fulbright NEXUS Regional Scholar Programme, administered by the United States Embassy in Kingston.
Hyman is a participant in this esteemed programme, which has brought together a network of scholars, professionals and mid-career applied researchers from the United States and other Western Hemisphere nations for a series of seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience.
At its core, the Fulbright NEXUS Programme fosters collaborative and multidisciplinary research to address challenging regional issues.
The programme provides a platform for selected scholars to engage in collaborative thinking, analysis, problem-solving and multi-disciplinary research in science, technology and innovation, entrepreneurship or sustainable energy. The programme, which commenced in October 2012 and will conclude in September 2013, entails activities, seminars and a research visit to Canada, Colombia and the United States.
Owing to her vast experience, skilful research capabilities and high interest in the subject area, Hyman was selected. She articulately proffered the argument that there is synergy between the community empowered approach to disaster management and the Fulbright Nexus Programme’s theme of science, technology and innovation, as both seek to tackle hazard mitigation, through generating and strengthening people-powered early warning systems.
Hyman also argued that the core objectives of the subject areas are geared towards establishing best practices for sustainable community developments in the Caribbean region and the Western Hemisphere.
Her main research interest lies in disaster management and community resilience for Caribbean coastal communities. Hyman believes and highlights the need for promoting a community empowerment approach towards disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes and sea level rises. She also argues that local residents must be encouraged to be involved in all four stages of the comprehensive disaster management cycle, namely mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, asserting that disaster management is ‘everybody’s business’ and not solely that of the Government.
No stranger to success, this graduate of St Andrew High School for Girls is also the recipient of the ‘Best Paper Award’ from the 2010 Asia Pacific Forum in Beppu, Japan, for her thesis focused on climate change vulnerability assessments for operations along the coastlines of Jamaica and Asia. This thesis is the product of her master’s degree in sustainability science from the University of Tokyo, Japan, made possible through a Japanese government scholarship.
In 2004 Hyman also received the Jamaican Prime Minister’s Award for the preservation of the natural environment. She is an active member of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, and sits on the education sector sub-committee for comprehensive disaster management governance mechanisms in the Caribbean.
Asked about the changes she would like to see at a policy/governmental level to sensitise Jamaicans on their role in disaster mitigation, Hyman indicated that a decentralisation of responsibility as it relates to disaster mitigation making it ‘everybody’s business’ and not solely that of the government is the direction she would like to see the country head in. She believes that the government of any nation has its limitations and so communities need to be unified and empowered to be part of the process in developing disaster plans, response and recovery systems. As a Nexus Scholar, Hyman intends to promote a network of safety and self-reliance within coastal communities to minimise losses caused by natural disasters.
Hyman is currently a researcher with the Climate Studies Group in the Department of Physics at the University of the West Indies, Mona. She is responsible for providing technical research support to the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project. This project is managed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the United Nations Environment Programme, and is funded by the European Union. Its objective is to increase resilience and reduce risks associated with natural hazards in vulnerable areas, thereby contributing to the sustainable development of Jamaica.
With a rooted faith in God, Hyman is encouraged to pursue greatness; an achievement which she believes must be vigorously pursued.

Persons interested in contributing to a field included in the Fulbright Graduate Student Programme may apply for the 2014/2015 Fulbright Graduate Student Programme.
The Fulbright Graduate Student Programme fellowships are awarded to qualified graduates with a first class or upper second class honours bachelor's degree who wish to continue their studies, for either a master’s or PhD degree in the humanities, social sciences or other specified disciplines, in the United States.
This very competitive program will only consider Jamaican-citizen graduates of tertiary institutions. Visit under “Embassy Headlines” for further details.



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