Belize + 6 more

European Commission adopts €3.5 million for disaster preparedness in the Caribbean


Brussels, 26 August 2005 -The Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) launched its 5th DIPECHO (for Disaster Preparedness ECHO) Action Plan for the Caribbean. €3.5 million will be allocated for disaster preparedness in the region. The main objective is to increase the capability of vulnerable populations living in areas most affected by recurrent natural hazards to cope with the effects of natural disasters.

"The 2004 hurricane season and the beginning of the 2005 season have once again tragically demonstrated the region's exposure to natural disasters, mainly hurricanes and floods. If we want help these populations to face and cope, our preparedness work must continue. The relevance of our approach has been confirmed by an external evaluation. This 5th action plan continues our efforts and focuses on the most vulnerable groups," explains Mr Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid.

The Action Plan includes supporting strategies that enable local communities and institutions to better prepare for and mitigate against natural disasters by enhancing their capacities to cope.

The financing will focus on the strengthening of capacity/training at the local level, with the direct participation of beneficiary communities. For example: organisation and training of local emergency committees; simulations and workshops at the community level aimed at the elaboration of an emergency plan; training and equipping of community disaster response teams.

Furthermore, activities supported under the new DIPECHO Action Plan will include the following:

- The setting of early warning systems;

- Small scale infrastructure mitigation works aimed at reducing physical vulnerability of beneficiaries, like protection walls along riverbanks, drainage works, reforestation;

- Map-making and computerisation of data connected with the study of risks, vulnerability and the development of emergency plans;

- Research and dissemination of technical studies, workshops and their results in order to increase knowledge on risk reduction issues.

Countries targeted:

Belize, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname and Eastern Caribbean islands.

The Caribbean region has been included in DIPECHO's programme since 1998. Since then, four Action Plans have been implemented with the help of NGOs, UN agencies and other regional partners, for a total amount of 8.5 million euros.