Jamaica, World Bank point to importance of disaster risk management

Monday, November 12, 2018

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Jamaica and the World Bank have highlighted the importance of understanding disaster risks and the need to have a robust financial plan to manage them.

The issue was the subject of discussion at a public forum, titled 'Facing the Fiscal Risk of Natural Disasters', held last week at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

The discussion focused on the lessons learned and how to better mitigate natural disaster risks and develop a suite of management tools in the context of the rising impact of climate change.

The forum also showcased Jamaica as a front-runner among all small island developing states in building resilience against natural disasters.

“The vulnerability of Jamaica to the devastation of natural disasters is well known. The Caribbean region is facing more frequent and more intense natural disasters, and our small nations are vulnerable to the damage they inflict, which is often disproportionate with regard to the size of our economies,” said Jamaica's Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.

Jamaica, like other Caribbean states, is highly exposed to extreme weather events and climate risks. Natural disasters have cost Jamaica an estimated US$1.2 billion between 2001 and 2010. The damage and losses from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 alone exceeded US$350 million. The impact on people's lives can be severe, and it is often the poorest that suffer the most from these shocks which are frequently followed by income and productivity losses.

“If storms are going to be more severe, we will need to build resilient infrastructure and put in place a robust financial safety net. We cannot wait until the next storm hits,” said World Bank Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean Jorge Familiar.

“The whole population needs to understand risks. Today's public forum on disaster risk financing is an opportunity to find ways to minimise the impact of climate change and to help the country better manage risks and strengthen fiscal resilience,” he added.

Familiar congratulated Jamaica for its leadership in advancing the agenda of disaster risk financing and for developing a Financing of Disaster Risk Policy.

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