KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), is playing an integral role in strengthening the country’s disaster management capacity.
The project, which commenced in 2016, is being financed through the World Bank at a cost of US$30 million.
Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank at the agency’s head office in Kingston, on Thursday, Managing Director, JSIF, Omar Sweeney, said that the project has “provided a good base to improve the country’s resilience”.
“The project itself is split between hardware and software elements, and the elements are designed to improve the country’s capacity, especially in the vulnerable communities and vulnerable areas, to be able to offer a better resistance to many of the effects of climate change,” said Sweeney.
He noted that being one of the most vulnerable countries, Jamaica suffers from its vulnerabilities to earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and drought, and as such, there are projects designed to enhance capacity in these areas.
Sweeney informed that in relation to the country’s response to fire, the Jamaica Fire Brigade, specifically in the major townships of Montego Bay, St James; Yallahs, St Thomas and Port Maria, St Mary, now enjoy state-of-the-art facilities to enable them to carry out their duties.
As it relates to flooding, the managing director noted that the Big Pond/Myton Gully area in Old Harbour is benefiting from infrastructure investments in drainage to improve the outflow of water whenever it rains.
He further pointed out that work has also been done to protect the country’s coastline, as a coastal revetment has been constructed in downtown Kingston, to safeguard the corridor from continued erosion and the effects of storm surges.
“We are currently looking at a revetment project in Annotto Bay,” Sweeney added.
He indicated that the Earthquake Unit at the University of the West Indies has also benefited from capacity-building under the DVRP.
“Since the inception of the project, we have invested in upgrading not only the hardware – computer equipment – but also monitoring stations as well as software and training to the seismic unit,” he said.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is another beneficiary under the DVRP.
This agency will benefit from the development of a National Risk Information Platform, which “will include all the risk information that the ODPEM and the wider government can use to have evidence-based data in determining where people live, where building plans are approved and where roads and highways can be constructed,” said Sweeney.
The Bureau of Standards Jamaica is also receiving support under the DVRP as it continues its work to update the national building codes. These codes include International Building Code, Small Residential Code and International Fire Code.
The DVRP is aimed at supporting the Government of Jamaica in disaster risk management in the wider context of sustainable development. The project is expected to come to an end in May 2024.