Opening Remarks By Elizabeth Riley, Deputy Executive Director (Ag), Cdema Coordinating Unit At The Regional Consultation On The Model National Policy On Comprehensive Disaster Management

Honourable Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Barbados, Mr Harry Hagan, Department for International Development, UK AID, Ms. Joan Norville, Programme Officer, Environment and Sustainable Development Unit, Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, National Disaster Coordinators,  Members of the Media; Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Executive Director of the CDEMA Coordinating Unit, Mr Jeremy Collymore, allow me to extend a warm welcome to you and deliver brief opening statements at today’s Regional Consultation on the Model National Policy on Comprehensive Disaster Management. Please accept the apologies of the Executive Director for his absence. He is currently on mission travel and has asked me to convey his best wishes for the meeting.   

Colleagues, our risk experience has taught us harsh lessons of how hard fought developmental progress is reversed by just one event. Ivan 2004 and more recently the Haiti Earthquake 2010 are just two examples. There has also been an evolution in the hazards which warrant our consideration. Our focus has expanded beyond the traditional natural hazards such as floods, drought, tropical cyclones, landslides, earthquakes and now embraces complex emergencies and trans-boundary threats. The latter inclusive of the phenomena of climate change and its implications provides yet another dimension.

Whilst we have done well in minimizing loss of life through early warning, and should celebrate this, our loss experience, estimated by the IDB as being between US$700Million and 3.3 Billion dollars in direct and indirect costs from extreme weather events over the past 30 years suggests that as we have developed as countries and as a region, that we have also experienced an increasing pace of exposure. How? Through investment in new assets – schools, health services, private homes and the list goes on.

In other words, whether managing disaster risk is a development issue is no longer in question. The real question is how do we effectively build resilience considerations into our development?

Whilst our conversation on this could occupy a full week’s discussion, what is crystal clear is that a national Comprehensive Disaster Management policy supported by appropriate legislation and associated regulations is a pillar upon which advancing disaster risk management is dependent since they put in place the necessary institutional frameworks to manage complex interactions and facilitate the shift towards greater accountability within our national systems.

The development of the Model National Comprehensive Disaster Management Policy represents but one of the suite of interventions which you our Participating States have signaled to us is necessary requirements to reduce vulnerability at the national level. In addition to the policy we will support the finalization of the model CDM legislation, have worked with 16 of our 18 Participating States in developing results based work programmes and will articulate model organizational structures for national disaster offices to deliver CDM. In addition we have made significant efforts to define and support country specific programming and strengthen the alignment of the regional programme with national priorities and build better accountability through the development of Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting Systems.

We are ever mindful however of the capacity and financial gaps at the national level to deliver on this broadened mandate. If we are honest, the reality is that the scope of what national institutions are to deliver has changed but to a large extent, the human, physical and financial resources necessary for effective delivery have not kept pace. This must be addressed with urgency.

The CDEMA CU remains committed to playing its part in assisting countries in meeting gaps. For example, we have integrated as a feature of our negotiating position with our development partners a two pronged strategy of mobilizing resources for direct country programming support and support for technical personnel to support programme delivery at the national level. These efforts are bearing fruit and we look forward to our continued dialogue on how the CDEMA CU can improve its service to you.

But within this landscape the role of national governments as a critical partner in reducing vulnerability to hazard impacts cannot be underscored. For this reason we are particularly pleased that the Honorable Minister has agreed to join us this morning for this critical discourse and to share his perspectives.

Today’s work would not be possible without resources. As such, let me express appreciation to the development partners who support the CDM Harmonized Implementation Programme, under which this funding is sourced. They are the Australian Aid Agency (AusAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. The support of these partners within a harmonized arrangement has allowed us the flexibility to be more responsive to national needs and for this we thank you.

The CDEMA CU also wishes to acknowledge the high quality of work which has thus far been delivered to us by our Consultant Dr. Vasantha Chase and look forward to finalization and the roll out process.

In closing, let me urge you the delegates of our Participating States to speak frankly and fully engage the consultant today. This is the opportunity to gain clarity as well as to make concrete recommendations on how the draft document can be enhanced.

We at the CDEMA Coordinating Unit are confident that this consultation’s outcomes will be positive and country centered.

I thank you.

Back To Top