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CDEMA Head wants Environmental Investments to Prevent Disasters

The International Disaster Database, Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters, has found a threefold increase of natural disasters from the period 1980-90 to the last decade (2000-09). The scale of these disasters has been expounded by the increased rates of urbanization, deforestation, environmental degradation and climate change. Not only have these caused extreme economic damage, but also a huge humanitarian cost. The countries of the Caribbean, categorized as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have unique features that threaten their sustainable development. Further, key economic and social sectors are climate dependent, thereby increasing vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change. For example, because of their dependence on the tourism industry, one natural disaster could destroy the economic base of many countries within a short period of time with devastating effects on people’s quality of life, livelihoods and the region’s sustainable development. Given the Caribbean region’s high vulnerability to natural hazards and in keeping with the theme for this year’s observance of World Population Day, Vulnerable Populations in Emergencies, the UNFPA Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean in association with national partners, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) staged a Public Lecture to heighten awareness around the theme. This took place at the PIOJ on July 9. Executive Director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr. Ronald Jackson, who delivered the main lecture, noted that although the Caribbean is one of the most hazards prone regions of the world there are steps that can be taken to prevent the hazard impacts from becoming disasters and minimize the level of human losses. The key to achieving this, he opined is reducing the vulnerabilities of those most at risk. These include infants, persons living with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women and persons with chronic diseases resulting in decreased mobility. “The occurrence of a hazard, whether natural or man-made, does not automatically result in a disaster. Rather it is the combination of an exposed, vulnerable and ill-prepared population with limited capacity to cope combined with a hazard event that results in disaster,” he told those gathered. He cited Haiti and Chile which both experienced earthquakes in 2010 and suggested that Chile fared better because of investments made in disaster mitigation. “Chile is a much wealthier country which applies and enforces strict building codes, has a robust emergency response system and a long history of handling seismic catastrophes. Because of this high level of experience with earthquakes, Chileans have homes and offices built to ride out quakes, their steel skeletons designed to sway with seismic waves rather than resist them. Haiti by contrast, had no building codes and most of its citizens were not familiar with the appropriate actions to take in the event of an earthquake to minimize injuries,” he noted. Against the background of an estimated economic loss of US$38 billion to the Caribbean region for the period 2010-2012 and an impact on over 15 million people, caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, local storms and flooding as reported by the Caribbean Development Bank, Mr. Jackson called for greater prioritization of the natural environment through adequate budgetary allocations and the effective enforcement of legislation to reduce the level of vulnerability. He also stressed the importance of involving representatives of vulnerable groups in the revision and updating of disaster plans; and to ensure appropriate communication with the affected groups. Addressing the practices to incorporate the needs of vulnerable groups in disaster mitigation, preparedness and response plans, Mr. Jackson pointed to the work of CDEMA, which he said, had established a Community Response Team (CERT) programme to allow communities to become more self-reliant during emergency events. “CERT is designed to help individuals protect themselves, family, neighbours and neighbourhoods in emergency situations and thereby reduces the vulnerability at the community level. He also mentioned that CDEMA had initiated the process of gender mainstreaming in disaster management through the establishment of a Gender Working Group. In addition, he said that CDEMA is currently working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the OECS to strengthen the capacity of the CDEMA participating states to gather and analyse gender sensitive data to contribute towards the development of disaster management policies that are gender sensitive. Research and experiences around the world he stated, reveal that disasters highlight and reinforce inequalities in societies, including those that are gender related. Between 22 and 44 per cent of households in the CARICOM are headed by women, disasters he added “can result in the reduction of women’s share of productive activities in the informal sectors, through direct damages to their means of production like small farms or equipment associated with micro-business.” He cautioned that preventing hazard impacts from becoming disasters requires involvement from all sectors, not just those in disaster management.
  • Published in Tourism

U.S. wants to reduce Caribbean dependence on Venezuelan oil

Washington, Jan 27 (EFE).- The U.S. government has urged Carribean countries to accept a new energy paradigm based on private investment in order to diversify its energy sources and reduce dependence on "Petrocaribe", the Venezuelan plan for subsidized oil.

Significant Benefits to Flow From CELAC Meeting in China

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, is projecting that “significant benefits” will flow to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, arising out of the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) held in Beijing, China January 8 to 9.

Xi pledges Latin America, Caribbean investments of US$250 billion

BEIJING, Cgina Thursday January 8, 2015 - Chinese president Xi Jinping Thursday opened a historic meeting between his nation and the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) by pledging US$250 billion in new investment in Latin America over the next decade.

Latin America and Caribbean growth to pick up slightly in 2015

Latin America and the Caribbean's economic growth might recover modestly to 2.2 percent in 2015, up from 1.3 percent in 2014, its lowest rate since last decade's global financial crisis. Despite the slowdown, the region has managed to maintain its gains against poverty, said Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno.

Colonial Reparations: Initiative of Caribbean States

The contemporary world system has shaped as a result of centuries - old colonial and neo-colonial policy of the West. The material well-being of «gold bullion» states is not based on effective economy but rather on global system created to exploit the poor South by the rich North.

Jamaica's tourism arrivals up despite regional trend

KINGSTON, Jamaica December 30, 2014 – Despite the result of a recent IMF study which shows tourism on the decline to the Caribbean Region, The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has announced that tourist arrivals, up to the end of October, were up 3.1% over last year.
  • Published in Tourism
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