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CDC hosts Disaster Risk Reduction platform meeting

News and Press Release
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Georgetown, GINA, December 15, 2011

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC), which is the national body tasked with disaster preparedness for the country, this morning held a “Disaster Risk Reduction Coordination Platform Meeting” in the conference room of the Commission’s Thomas Lands office.

This meeting saw the occurrence of two significant events which form the basis of elevating the preparedness level of the country, which were, the selection of a Sub Committee which will focus on community-based disaster risk management and the proposal by Habitat for Humanity Guyana Inc. which included ways in which the latter can contribute to Guyana’s preparedness.

Director General of CDC Colonel Retired Chabilall Ramsarup, MSM, said that the CDC’s endeavours in disaster management have improved tremendously over the years, more so the institutional capacity has increased with a number of training workshops and sessions with International Agencies, the most recent being a week-long workshop which concluded Friday last in Trinidad and Tobago.

Rawle Small, National Director for Habitat for Humanity Guyana Inc. in his presentation said Habitat has noticed that its work cannot stop at providing shelters for the poor and vulnerable, as there are other factors that would also ultimately affect them, specifically, when it comes to disasters.

Towards this end, the role of Habitat for Humanity Guyana Inc. will now be altered to accommodate disasters and will be partnering with the CDC so that there is a concerted effort towards disaster risk reduction.

“Habitat in the past dealt mainly with building homes for low-income families primarily…Now we are under-going a re-formulation of the strategies as we realised that it’s not to build a home and think that will alone help to alleviate the economic and social constraints that a family may face, as well as other areas such as climate change…In times of disaster the affected population face hardships as they are faced with the task of having to re-establish shelters or their homes… Habitat will focus on ensuring that persons affected by such disasters are quickly sheltered with the implementation of T-Shelters,” Small said.

T-Shelters referred to as a home in a tool box, as it contains tarpaulins, tools such as saw, nails, hammer, and pieces of wood; which can be used in an emergency to construct a shelter/home. “These were implemented widely in Haiti, after hurricanes and earth quakes damaged thousands of homes, leaving citizens homeless and in dire need of shelter,” Small said.

At the end of Habitat’s presentation the Sub Committee members were selected and it comprised the following; Chairman of the Sub Committee- the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, with the following agencies as its members; Guyana Red Cross Society, CDC, Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Housing and Water, Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and Habitat for Humanity.

Taking into account the experience of floods in 2005 and 2006, the country’s risk profile and changing climate, the Government of Guyana has made a number of commitments and undertaken initiatives. Among these are; commitment to comprehensive disaster risk management and an integrated approach to disaster risk management; the implementation of an IDB funded project on Design and Implementation of an Integrated Disaster Risk Management Plan and a UNDP project on Capacity Building for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The CDC, which is the lead agency in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction, was established in 1982 to make plans and conduct operations to deal with all types of disasters in Guyana, and in order to ensure effective collaboration and information exchange between all Disaster Reduction actors in Guyana, the CDC chartered a path to establish a Disaster Risk Reduction Coordination Platform.