With tsunamis accounting for $280 billion in economic losses over the last 20 years, Barbados is working towards achieving disaster resilient communities and reducing disaster losses.
These points were raised on Monday by Director of the Department of Emergency Management, Kerry Hinds, as the island joined the rest of the world in observing World Tsunami Awareness Day 2018 under the theme: Reducing Economic Losses.
Speaking during a seminar at the Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve, Ms. Hinds said the aim of the Technical Standing Committee on Coastal Hazards was to see Holetown, St. James designated as the first tsunami ready community in Barbados.
She explained that efforts to achieve this goal were being done by utilizing the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) strategy which focused on four areas – institutional strengthening; research and knowledge management; mainstreaming disaster risk management in key economic sectors; and community resilience.
Ms. Hinds explained that institutional strengthening was important as key agencies sought to fortify their organizations and systems to deal with hazards, emergencies and disasters that could affect the country.
She added that research and knowledge management improved the research and knowledge base about the hazards and presented a greater understanding of the potential risks faced. The interplay of the island’s natural and built environment and its social systems and utilizing this knowledge to plan effectively and make informed decisions was also vital, she noted.
The director stressed that developing strategies to cope with the disasters was equally important, as well as being able to identify and mobilize resources needed to deal effectively with the hazards and build capacity across the sectors.
As it relates to community resilience, Ms. Hinds related that over the last year the committee has focused on the Holetown community, looking at capacity building through sensitization on the various coastal hazards that can affect the community, including the tsunami hazard, and assisting and encouraging organizations to develop and exercise their disaster management plans and procedures.
She noted that the process culminated with this year’s Caribewave 2018 in March, which saw businesses and residents taking part and exercising their plans. “It is important that we all see disaster management as our business,” the Director stressed.