Disaster management capacity in western Jamaica gets big boost

Disaster management capacity in western Jamaica gets big boost

Friday, July 26, 2019

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FORTY-FOUR residents of Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland are better able to help their communities in the aftermath of a disaster.

The residents recently took part in a three-day training workshop on Shelter Management and Initial Damage Assessment, part of a project being administered by the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation to build resilience to disaster risks and climate change impacts.

Organised by the municipal corporation, under the Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction Technology and Strategies to Improve Community Resilience (CARTS) project, the workshop was designed to equip community members with first responder skills required in the event of a disaster.

Financing for the CARTS project was provided by the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF), a multi-donor trust fund with grant resources from Global Affairs Canada and the European Union, which is managed by the Caribbean Development Bank.

The three-day training initially targeted 30 people but met with so much interest that eventually 44 people were accommodated.

“Savanna-la-Mar, located on the coast, is vulnerable to certain climate impacts such as storm surge, flooding, sea level rise and so on. Therefore, it is very important that we ensure that the residents can respond quickly and effectively in the event of a disaster,” said Shadae Allen, project manager for the CARTS project.She said about 34,783 residents of Savanna-la-mar, consisting of 17,443 females and 17,340 males, will be impacted by the project.

The workshop was conducted mainly by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), an participants were trained in diverse topics, including the concept of risk management being more than responding to disasters; the impact of hazards on buildings and infrastructure; and the importance of pre hazard assessments towards effective planning. Participants were also taken through practical steps for conducting an initial damage assessment.

On the shelter management side, the emphasis was placed on the role and responsibilities of the shelter manager as a problem solver in times of disaster.

Participants reported that they felt energised after the training sessions, based on the quality of information presented.

“It was really a good training programme. We got lots of information to be better able to carry out our role as public health responders pre and post disaster. We were also given further training to prepare us to be shelter managers, if needed, and we can also complete initial damage assessments, if required,” said Anneka Tomlinson of the Westmoreland Health Department.

Andrae Bailey, who represented a community-based organisaton in the Savanna-la-Mar area, was also pleased with the quality of the training.

“The information was useful and the delivery method appropriate. I especially loved the visual aids in the initial damage assessment training as it gave a practical visual of what to look for when completing an initial damage assessment. We also did participatory activities in groups to get hands-on experience with various issues. The information was relatable and the initial damage assessments aspect can be transferred even outside of disaster scenario as it is also applicable to everyday life,” he said.

The Westmoreland Municipal Corporation and ODPEM will now maintain contact with the participants as well as update the parish list of people on standby to serve as first responders.

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