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Ladies, gentlemen, we are gathered as part of an ongoing process to operationalize the requirements and mandates of this re-branded and refocused agency, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The convening of this, the first meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee, is a key step in this direction.  The organ has been repositioned to promote a deeper and more sustained involvement of Participant States in the identification of their priority technical assistance needs, the design of solution to these needs and in the full participation of their monitoring and evaluation.


For this redefined mission to be realized, members of the TAC will be required to revisit mindsets.  The TAC’s role as I see it, is to get beyond the commenting on ideas and programmes drafted by the Coordinating Unit and be proactive agents in presenting concept notes, discussion papers and other such agents of engagement.

It will also require that committees of the TAC be similarly dispositioned to lead in agenda forming, product review and appropriate advocacy.

Nothing short of this engagement adjustment is required if the intent of the name and mandate change of the agency is going to be realized.

The CU is seeking to ensure that the other key platforms necessary to propel change required for national DRR platforms are available.  At this meeting, we will be considering the model legislation, model national, organization structure, model DRR policy and monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

The establishment of these common and shared tools are important in helping to define our space and interface with the global DRR developments and initiatives.  We must empower ourselves to search for that critical balance between global and local pressures that inform our programming.  In that context the dialogue we had with UN International strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) today on monitoring and reporting on the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) is an important step in better sharing what we do with the global community within an efficient client driven data sharing environment.

An equally critical piece of the pie required to give new and full life to CDEMA, is organizational structuring of the CU.  We have considered recommendations from the consultants and have provided essential guidance necessary to make these consistent with the policy and operating environment of the agency and its sustainability.

Since September 2009, we have had two new members to this entity.  Haiti and Suriname.  Already, the January 12, 2010 earthquake has signaled the nature of the challenges to be faced from this expansion as well as the urgency for obtaining the consummation of this membership.

As there is a rapidly increasing externally driven push for one Caribbean DRR agency, CDEMA will have to revisit the guidelines, conditions for and types of membership.

If there was any doubt about the hazardousness of our space, this programme year 2009/2010 is removing these.  The most catastrophic earthquake in this hemisphere in the last seventy five years at least, occurred in one of our newest Participating States: Haiti.  The loss of more than 200,000 lives, displacement of more than one million persons and the devastation of the capital of the state clearly demonstrate why DRR must be a staple on our development and political agenda.  Only, yesterday, three (3) persons in Dominica lost their lives as a result of a landslide.

At the same time, most Participating States were experiencing extended periods of water deficit resulting in extensive rationing in some of them.

As you are aware, CDEMA with the support of the Government of Austria, USAID and EU, has been collaborating and piloting model contingency planning and public education products for earthquakes, tsunami and other costal hazards.  The demand for public information on hazards in our community other than hurricanes is accelerating.  The www.weready,org website has been launched to meet this demand through user friendly, multi-media simplified language and action tips for the public.

Several external factors are driving the intensity and the shaping of our programme re-articulation.  These include the climate change pre-occupation and the CCA/DRR integration, rapid deployment mechanisms of the international humanitarian system, safety and security and pandemics.

We are aware that the Participating States, like the CU are challenged to be fully engaged in these processes as we ought to be.  I hope that we can again revisit the issue of representation at these fora.

CDEMA is fortunate to have committed partners to the CDM agenda, national capacity building and the consolidation of a regional DRR architecture.  The continued support of CIDA, DFID, JICA, USAID, USAID/OFDA, Government of Australia has been critical to our multi-year programming.  Technical support of our regional institutions, CIMH, UWI, CTO, SRC, CEHI, RSS, IMPACS, CROSQ, CDB, CARISEC and our UN family agencies has allowed us to convert this financial support to useful products for our Participating States.

In the last year we are pleased to have AusAid on board as a new partner committed to multi-year technical support.  Already, they have provided Aus. 1million to support response efforts in Haiti and an additional 1m to frame a bridging DRR programme whilst a multi-year one is being detailed.

Efforts are underway to establish a DRR programme with the Government of Brazil within the framework of the CARICOM Brazil cooperation agreement with a priority focus on access to rapid deployment support.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is much still to be done.  The demands on our time and resources are increasing disproportionate to their availability.  This can often lead to frustration if not viewed dispassionately.  In all of this, we need to think more of where we are in relation to where we are going.  That is why we must have clear programming goals with the requisite mechanisms for monitoring change and progress.

Comrades, you will have observed that consistent with CDM Programming priorities much of the Technical Assistance intervention has been targeted at Participating States national systems and regional governance mechanisms.

I believe that we are now at a point where we must now recast the act. CDM is multi-stakeholder and multi-actor oriented.  Its success will require a deeper and more sustained involvement of these beyond our current constituency.  The big question is how we galvanize such action.

I wish to suggest that the biggest trigger for high level, multi-sector sustained interest will be the generation of national vulnerability and risk profiles.  It will generate the data for our programming, create the space for full application of science, highlight the criticalness of land use planning and development and provide the space for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction integration.

Such an initiative will require a bold multi-year investment in risk profiling and may be appropriately seen as part of the resilient development financing initiatives that are emerging.  These opportunities must be the new face of our resource mobilization and DRR programming.  It is an area in which I wish to dedicate my remaining months at the CU.

Ladies and gentlemen, the government of the Bahamas has graciously agreed to host the TAC without hesitation.  The arrangements reflect the fullness of spirit which they have invested in the preparation for the TAC.  CDEMA recognizes the government of the Bahamas as a silent, reliable and committed partner to the agency and the CDM agenda.  We look forward to your continued support.

In the context of the above I look forward to and invite a full deliberation on the matters on our agenda over the next few days.

 

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