The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) yesterday hosted the inaugural meeting of the Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee (RDRMC) in Upper Demerara-Berbice, Region Ten.
According to a Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) press release, this is in keeping with its overall plan to establish an emergency operations centre in the region that will be responsible for relief co-ordination and management there. The meeting was held in the boardroom of the Linden Enterprise Network, Mackenzie, Linden.
Director-General of the CDC, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig said that the centre will be responsible for “disseminating early warning information and focusing on early recovery in times of disaster” and that it will focus on preparedness and contingency planning when there are no imminent threats, the MoTP release added.
“It is a collaborative effort to work together first and foremost, to reduce the risk and secondly to ensure that we have the right mechanism to respond. This is something that we have been working on for years and we are happy that we have reached the stage that we can hand over the regional system,” he was quoted as saying.
The Director-General further stated, “Even with the regional system in place, we still have some gaps, so we started work on the development of the municipality’s disaster risk management plan and we have also been working on developing the Neighbourhood Democratic Council disaster risk management plan.” He noted too that the “aim is to show that disasters have different levels… so once we develop that system and have those things in place, responding to emergencies and disasters should be much easier.”
Craig urged the stakeholders to take into consideration during development planning, several hazards that the CDC’s studies have found in the region so that those risks can be mitigated. These include droughts, air pollution, erosion, mining accidents, road accidents, floods, land pollution and wild fires. The region is most at risk for droughts at a rate of 82.78 per cent.
The Regional Chairman, Rennis Morian, in his opening remarks, said that he is pleased with the initiative. “Getting the message out that there are so many risks that we need to manage is something we need to do. A lot has to do with public awareness and notifying communities across the region as it relates to what they are facing and some of the practices that are making those risks stay there,” he was quoted as saying.
The CDC in partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) with support from the European Union (EU) has developed standardised plans for disaster risk management at the regional level, which will be implemented by the said committees. The Upper Demerara-Berbice Region is the eighth region to have established the committee, which will be chaired by Regional Chairman, Morian and include representatives from the Linden Mayor and Town Council, utility companies, the private sector, the joint services and other stakeholders.
Committees are expected to be established in Demerara-Mahaica, Region Four, and Potaro-Siparuni, Region Eight, within the first quarter of the coming year.