The Region Looks at Enhancing Comprehensive Disaster Management

Nassau, Bahamas, November 30th, 2015 (BIS) – As the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season closes with at least two devastating storms impacting the region, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, CDEMA, is seeking ways to build stronger communities to withstand natural or man-made disasters.

This is being done through the Ninth Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management under the theme: “The Road to Resilience: Checkpoint 2015,” underway at Melia Nassau Beach Resort.

The conference, held in The Bahamas for the first time, is staged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the CDEMA, November 30 to December 4, 2015.

Captain Stephen Russell, Director of NEMA, in his welcome remarks underscored the importance of the conference being held at the close of the Hurricane Season, and what the region has to live through for six months of the year: “We, in the Caribbean basin and the Americas know only too well what it is to live six months out of the year June 1 to November 30 -- looking over our shoulders wondering whether a storm is coming our way.

“Hence, the need to be ever ready as our theme for this year’s Conference says: “The Road to Resilience – CDM Checkpoint 2015,” Captain Russell said.

He noted that the conference is being held as The Bahamas recovers from the catastrophic, Category 4, Hurricane Joaquin, which wreaked havoc on the Central and Southeast Islands in October.

“The damage was severe but thankfully, there was no loss of life,” he said.

The conference is also being held as Dominica is rebuilding their lives after the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erika in August killing more than 30 people. It is said to be the deadliest natural disaster to hit that country since Hurricane David in 1979.

“We also meet as the world is focusing on climate change -- the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The objective of that conference is to negotiate a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all nations of the world.

“So, this brings us to why we are here under the theme: “The Road to Resilience: Checkpoint 2015,” which is viewed as the first checkpoint for reporting on the progress made after two years of the implementation of the 2014-2024 Caribbean Comprehensive Management Strategy as we aspire towards the desired future state of regional resilience,” Captain Russell said.

In looking at the Conference objectives -- among them, to share the Monitoring, Evaluation and Review Framework for the CDM Strategy and to facilitate knowledge exchange on pathways to resilience -- this year’s Hurricane Season has certainly taught us that this is the way forward, said Captain Russell.

“As the Conference creates a space for reflection on the progress of CDM over the last 10 years, we must collectively find ways to strengthen our systems, strategies, plans and pool resources toward tackling these issues; a major component being inclusion and involvement of our young people,” he said.

In this vein, the Youth Session scheduled during the Conference is even timelier, as the region is aware that there is ever-changing technology critical to monitoring and managing the level and frequency of disasters that face Small Island Developing States. Furthermore, the inclusion of young people in the field of disaster management goes hand-in-hand with the fast-paced technology.

“There is so much to examine during this Conference as we shape the way forward on the Road to Resilience. Our individual countries depend on tailor-made programmes towards this resilience and, collectively, the region needs a defined programme that would help preserve the unique, geographical and environmental position we were created in,” he said.

The opening ceremony was also addressed by Ronald Jackson, Executive Director, CDEMA; The Hon. Adriel Brathwaite, Chairman, CDEMA Council; The Most Hon. P J Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica; and the Hon. Arnold Forbes, Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Urban Development.

CDEMA presently comprises 18 Participating States: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Republic of Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands.

Delegates touring the exhibition following the Opening Ceremony of the Ninth Comprehensive Disaster Management Conference, at Melia Nassau Beach Resort, November 30.  From left: The Most Hon. P J Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica; The Hon. Adriel Brathwaite, Chairman, CDEMA Council; and the Hon Arnold Forbes, Minister of State, Ministry of Works and Urban Development (at centre).  (BIS Photo/Kemuel Stubbs) Eva Hilton Primary School Children give a choral rendition.  (BIS Photo/Kemuel Stubbs)
Audience at the Opening Ceremony of CDEMA Conference at Melia Nassau Beach Resort, November 30, 2015.  (BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs) Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell addresses the Opening Ceremony of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Conference of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency at Melia on Monday, November 30.  (BIS Photo/Kemuel Stubbs)
CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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