CEO Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to address media on organisation’s practices

Tacarigua, Trinidad, December 6th, 2013 (ODPM) - Dr. Stephen Ramroop, Chief Executive Officer, of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) will address the media on Monday December 9, 2013 at the ODPM National Office to bring them up to date on the organisation’s practices and its transitioning to a Comprehensive Disaster Management approach.

The ODPM was established by cabinet in 2005 as the successor to NEMA, the National Emergency Management Agency. The current Disaster Measures Act of 1978 is outdated and does not fully support the needs of the National Disaster Office to effectively deliver Comprehensive Disaster Management in Trinidad and Tobago. Draft Legislation has been drafted along with a proposal to transform the ODPM to an authority. Due to this lack of legislative authority, one of the ODPM’s key strategic priorities has become stakeholder engagement. This is primarily due to the fact that the ODPM has to leverage relationships with key stakeholders within the national disaster system to improve the country’s level of readiness. The ODPM depends on stakeholder alliances to coordinate functions within all phases of the Disaster Management Cycle; which includes prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. At each phase this cycle, there will be various stakeholders from the public sector, private sector, civil society and communities. The work that is done with our stakeholders depends a lot on the motivation and goodwill of our stakeholders. To build these relationships the ODPM uses several facilitation tools, engagements, meetings and workshops.

In addition to the challenges with the current legislation, the ODPM is currently experiencing human resources challenges as we seek to transition to an authority. As previously mentioned a proposal has been completed to transform the ODPM to an authority which can effectively deliver Comprehensive Disaster Management and is in keeping with regional and international models and best practice. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and CARICOM’s Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency have provided strategies and frameworks to reduce disaster risk in member nations. In order to fulfil these requirements the ODPM has to become an overseer to prevent emergencies which may range from oil spills to mass crowd incidents all across the country from becoming local and national disasters. Once the ODPM is transformed to an authority, it is felt that the organisation will be able to offer more long term employment rather than the current three month employment contracts.

As the ODPM awaits the transformation it is a challenge to keep the team morale at an optimum level especially as the team works 24/7 as part of their daily remit. As the Chief Executive Officer of the ODPM, I am sending this note on our position to appeal to the editors to carefully review submissions to your reputable newspapers before publishing. These possibly mischievous submissions that promulgate a feeling of corruption and nepotism serve to demotivate and place added pressure on the very hard working ODPM team. It is with this in mind that I (Dr. Ramroop Chief Executive Officer) wish to invite members of media houses to visit the ODPM office at 4A Orange Grove Road, Tacarigua and learn more about our organisation, our current programmes and standard operating procedures as we seek to a build a culture of safety and resilience in Trinidad and Tobago.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. Stephen Ramroop,
Chief Executive Officer
868-789-2779, 868-354-7119

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