Mrs. Wallace said that the annual gathering was convened in an effort to discuss the way forward for 2013 in the areas of Training and other activities, with stakeholders and supporters.
She said that having all stake holders at the table in the initial stage, will advance her committee’s mission to promote a culture of disaster management at the Community level, by ensuring that the necessary support systems are in place to assist the Districts in all of their endeavours.
“Our objectives are informed by our combined efforts to develop networks that would lead to improved capacity, in all of our Community Disaster Management programmes”, she said.
OVERVIEW OF WORK DONE AT COMMUNITY LEVEL IN 2012
Last year, the Half Way Tree community benefited from interventions through a project supported by the OECS, Caribbean Development Bank, The Inter-American Development Bank and NEMA. The Half Way Tree Disaster Risk Management Project, exposed residents and leaders within the neighbourhood to Community Disaster Planning focusing on assessing vulnerabilities in the areas of Housing, Environment and elderly residents with disabilities.
Mrs. Wallace said that the response of the Half Way Tree community became legendary among the facilitators, consultants and funding agents.
“Half Way Tree residents partnered with us from the onset, perhaps due in part to the immense vulnerabilities plaguing their community,” she said, “but they have exhibited incredible on-going interest in the process to reduce the community’s risk to natural hazards, above and beyond what was expected.”
In return, tradesmen and homeowners have been trained to design and build more resilient structures through tried and true applications. Building Contractors, Construction workers and potential homeowners within the community, were targeted for this exercise, which exposed them to proven techniques that reduce susceptibility to impact.
The Old Road Community was also identified as highly vulnerable to natural hazards and as such, qualified residents for assistance by way of the ACP-EU CDEMA Disaster Risk Management Sub-Regional Programme. This programme led to a variety of training and other opportunities for residents and community volunteers, including the following:
- 1.Community Disaster Management
- 2.Emergency Telecommunications
- 3.Community Plan Development, and
- 4.Procurement of a Storage Container with
Emergency Supplies & Equipment.
“The aim of the Community Plan Development workshop,” according to Mrs. Wallace, “is to reduce the level of liability along the Western coast line of St. Kitts, by creating a response plan that is fashioned by the very members of the liable community.”
A storage facility furnished with supplies and equipment to be used in response to a hazard strike, was also provided as part of the project.
Nation-wide, The National Plan, which is the emergency response manual for St. Kitts and Nevis, was also updated and amended as part of the ACP-EU CDEMA Disaster Risk Management Sub-Regional Programme. Other aspects too of the broad ranging series, were explored in three workshops that took place in St. Kitts and Nevis, between February 12th and 14th, 2013.
According to CDEMA’s Deputy Executive Director, Elizabeth Riley, the exponential growth of the number of major hurricanes affecting us in recent times and the successive coastal destruction, identified the integration of an evacuation policy and plan into Early Warning Systems as a priority for disaster management.
“Hence a Model Evacuation Policy and a Model Evacuation Plan for CDEMA Participating States have been introduced by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Coordinating Unit (CDEMA CU) as a critical programme component,” Ms. Riley said.
In accordance with CDEMA’s intervention, the CU convened a consultative workshop in Nevis on February 14th, 2013 in collaboration with St. Kitts and Nevis Disaster Management policy makers and relevant Permanent Secretaries, Department Heads and stakeholders with evacuation matters under their purview. Consultant Ms. Alison King-Joseph, an Independent Environmental Consultant to CDEMA, led the process and is now tasked with drafting the policy document, which will be reviewed by the committee responsible for its implementation, prior to seeking approval from Cabinet.
Two other exercises, dealing with Message Handling within the NEOC (National Emergency Operations Centre) on February 11th and 12th at NEMA HQ, and Training for Trainers of the updated CDEMA Community Preparedness Programmes Manual, from February 11th to 13th, 2013, at Royal St. Kitts Hotel & Casino, signalled the final stages of the project.
As the Managers’ meeting progressed, presentations were made by representatives from Community, Social Development & Gender Affairs, the Christian Council and Managers from the various Districts, in attendance.
Mrs. Wallace said that a number of suggestions for training and other public awareness exercises to increase resilience to natural hazards, were made by committee members, including the following:
- 1.Shelter Management(OFDA training in March 2013 for 24 Persons)
- 2.Damage Assessment workshops
- 3.Training for Instructors
- 4.Community Emergency Response Team Training
- 5.Simulation Exercises to test programmes
- 6.Tour of Radio/TV Talk shows to promote Disaster Management actions
- 7.Talks in Schools and at Health Centres focusing on Elderly residents’ challenges
- 8.Meeting with the Shelter Committee to fine tune shelter management processes, and
- 9.Reprinting of the Senior Citizens Pamphlet, which includes tips and steps to be taken for self protection during an event.
Persons interested in serving their communities or in any other area as part of the Districts Management Teams, may contact Mrs. Telca Wallace at Tel. 466-5100 or Fax 466-5310 or by emailing nemaskb@TheCable.net“>nemaskb@TheCable.net