Comprehensive Disaster Management Conference dubbed a success

Tortola, Virgin Islands, December 15, 2009 (DDM) – The six member team just back in the Territory from attending the 4th annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management in Jamaica is reporting a very successful and informative session.

(2nd Right) At the Conference - Ms. Sharleen DaBreo, Director, Virgin Islands Department of Disaster ManagementThe BVI delegation comprising representatives from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), the BVI Tourist Board and the private sector was among 250 persons from 37 countries attending the conference held under the theme “Strengthening CDM through Youth and Community Empowerment at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa.

Delegates benefitted from 10 information packed sessions which ranged in subject area from traditional offerings to newer topic areas focusing on youth and community empowerment and the integration of disaster risk reduction into climate change.

Several presenters mentioned the work being done in the Virgin Islands as well and the support being given to the DDM by policy makers and political leaders. On more than one occasion examples of work done in the VI were mentioned or showcased including the OECS funded drainage project in Crab Lot. Presenters in Public Awareness/Education and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) meetings described the Virgin Islands as forerunners in Disaster Management.

In the key note address at the opening ceremony host Prime Minister Honourable Bruce Golding focused on the need for Caribbean Islands to pay greater attention to climate change and ensuring that disaster management programmes focused more on youth in our communities.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in Jamaica, Mrs. Faith Innerarity identified disaster management as a critical area for communities, especially the youth. She added that youth in Jamaica "demonstrated exceptional leadership skills [and] a strong spirit of volunteerism providing service at the community level" and were therefore suited to play a leading role in Comprehensive Disaster Management. She made mention of the fact that in Cuba, young people had been given a "very critical role in the management of natural disasters" and that Cuba's disaster management system was "recognized as being very effective".

The involvement of Jamaican youth was demonstrated through the participation of a number of schools in a Youth Session on December 8 that included a debate on Climate Change in Small Islands and Developing States and creative art expressions.

Also bringing remarks was the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Mr. Jeremy Collymore who positioned the work of the agency and the CDM conference in the context of the global expansion of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) initiatives. He emphasized that DRR activities have developed immensely from the region’s fledgling disaster management organizations. The Executive Director stated that based on the many trans-boundary threats affecting the region and their potential for creating large scale disruptions, “DRR requires a more sustained presence in our international diplomacy.”

Conference chair Mrs. Andria Grosvenor said “I am pleased with the outcome of the conference and that it offered the unparalleled opportunity to disseminate information on experiences and advances in comprehensive disaster management knowledge whilst assimilating key elements of good practices from other regions around the world.”

The BVI delegation comprised representatives from the DDM including Sharleen DaBreo, Director, Linton Leonard, Information and Education Manager and Cecil Jeffrey, Assistant Information Officer. The delegation was completed by Ms. Natasha Chalwell, Product Development Manager of the BVI Tourist Board, Mr. Wayne Francis, Finance Director of Nerine Trust Company, (BVI) Limited and Joseph Smith –Abbott of Sage Consulting.

To learn more about the Department of Disaster Management and its functions, call the main office at 468-4200, visit the office at #3 Wailing Road, McNamara, Road Town or visit the website at