Jamaica: Communities developing and updating disaster plans under BDRC project
This is according to project officer at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Joanna Ogilvie, who was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank on September 16.
The communities - Trinityville in St. Thomas and Annotto Bay in St. Mary, are represented by the Trinityville Zonal Disaster Committee and the Annotto Bay Health and Environmental Association (ABHEA), respectively.
Miss Ogilvie, who has overall responsibility for the BDRC project at ODPEM, informed that in Trinityville, a number of people were trained in shelter management and initial damage assessment prior to the project and were very active in working with the Parish Disaster Committees and ODPEM. She noted, however, that there was need to broaden the participation of the community to be able to manage and respond to disasters, which primarily entail landslides and flooding.
The Annotto Bay community, on the other hand, was more advanced in terms of disaster management, with early warning systems put in place under a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project. "What they sought to do (under the CIDA project) was not to develop a community disaster plan but to revamp their plan and begin a process of developing project proposals to be able to resolve mitigation and response issues," she explained.
Project officer of the ABHEA, Dorrell Harley, informed that among her tasks, is to bring together stakeholders such as the Fire Department, the Police, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), National Works Agency (NWA) and community members.
"We have had some workshops and are now in the process of bringing proposals to CIDA. The main projects involve the installation of a foot bridge at Epsom, which is a small community near Annotto Bay," she informed.
Miss Harley said that residents of Epsom have problems going about their business whenever it rains heavily, and the footbridge will help to ameliorate that situation. The Association is also working on plans for another project to establish gabion baskets at the approaches to the river, which will help to prevent flooding in the town of Annotto Bay when the nearby river overflows.
"The river is in the middle of the town; whenever a little rain falls, the whole town is cut off. This is our main project and when we have accomplished that we will have done some really good work," Miss Harley stated.
In the meantime, President of the St. Thomas Environmental Protection Association (STEPA) and the Trinityville Area Development Committee, Terrence Cover, said that deforestation has led to flooding and landslides during the rainy season and has called on the authorities and relevant stakeholders to assist in addressing the situation.
"The area suffers from man-made and natural disasters, so it is good that this BDRC project has come on stream. It is very good to have the community coming together and sharing a vision," he said. "Without active participation, nothing will be manifested," he added.
The $63 million BDRC project involves 28 communities islandwide, and aims to establish partnerships among key government and community stakeholders in order to establish sustainable zonal disaster committees and community groups.