BCBRA receives valuable donation from Canadian Government

Bridgetown, Barbados, June 3, 2009 (Barbados Advocate) - THE Government of Canada has donated $10 963 (just over BBD $18 500) in support of the expansion and upgrading of the Barbados Citizens Band Radio Association’s VHF Repeater Telecommunications Network.
Chargé d’Affaires in the Canadian High Commission, Douglas Holland, revealed that “disaster risk management is a programming priority for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in its 10 year strategic framework for the Caribbean region”.
Disaster Risk Management Specialist with the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Clive Lorde; President of the BCBRA, Randolph Chandler; acting Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon. Freundel Stuart; and Chargé d’Affaires in the Canadian High Commission, Douglas Holland share words at the presentation ceremony held at the BCBRA HeadquartersHe informed, “CIDA’s new [$20 million] regional disaster risk reduction program focuses on the long-term mitigation and recovery in the disaster cycle and will examine some elements of preparation for disasters. The program is two tiered, with both regional and national responsive components.”

“Within this program, CIDA’s Canada Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Fund (CCDRMF) was launched in November 2008 to provide support to small, community-focused projects that produce a measurable reduction in the impact of natural disasters on communities in the Caribbean,” Holland furthered.

In its thirty-four years of existence, the Barbados Citizens Band Radio Association (BCBRA) has demonstrated a consistent commitment to community service. Its members have used their skills, knowledge and interest in radio communications to assist a wide range of organisations and interests in Barbados and, by extension, has provided assistance to Barbados’ society in general.

As a result, the BCBRA has the distinction of being the first organisation in the Caribbean to receive funding under the CCDRMF. The Fund will facilitate the installation of two new VHF repeaters, which are expected to increase emergency-response radio coverage from 50 per cent to 90 per cent of the island, or from five (5) to eleven (11) parishes.

“This is significant, as it means that all eleven (11) District Emergency Organisations (DEO) based-stations would have effective communication with the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), along with the expected eighty-four VHF hand held radios operated by DEO members,” noted Holland.

“As was seen in the hours after the November 2007 earthquake, when the telephone system was overwhelmed and became inoperable, an emergency-response communications system must be a separate and dedicated communications system that has the ability to remain operational, independently of other communications systems and utilities. In a hurricane situation, the electricity supply will be closed down prior to the hurricane’s landfall. If the electricity grid suffered considerable damage, there would be a delay in the resumption of the electricity supply,” he explained.

“The expanded VHF Repeater Telecommunications Network proposed by the BCBRA is backed up by a system of standby generators, rechargeable batteries and uninterrupted power supplies,” Holland furthered.

Speaking at Friday evening’s presentation, acting Prime Minister of Barbados and Minister of Home Affairs, the Hon. Freundel Stuart, enlightened, “In every facet of our experience, communication between people is an indispensable prerequisite – on no occasions more so than when there are natural disasters and we have to try as best we can to reduce their impact and try to ensure that minimal damage is caused.”

“We are not here to witness a small event – disaster management, mitigation and reduction is an issue on the front burner of practically every country in the Caribbean and beyond. That Barbados indicates that it does not intend to be left behind in this issue is symbolic of our maturity and the state of modernity in our thinking,” commented Stuart.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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