Prime Minister addresses CARICOM on disaster mitigation and management

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis shared with his CARICOM colleagues, a number of initiatives being undertaken by his government in a move to improve his country’s disaster mitigation plan, through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

He made an address Friday morning on Disaster Resilience in the Caribbean Community – Post Hurricanes Irma and Maria, on the margins of the Thirty-Ninth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) July 4-6, 2018 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The prime minister pointed out that The Bahamas and the region have suffered three consecutive devastating hurricanes – Joaquin 2015, Matthew 2016 and Irma 2017.

And in this vein, the focus of The Bahamas is to now make hurricane preparedness a way of life.

“We have proclaimed June Disaster Preparedness Month. The National Emergency Management Agency conducted a series of activities to heighten awareness of hurricane preparedness,” he told CARICOM.

Also, upon the approach of hurricane Irma in 2017, for the first time in recent history, the Government of The Bahamas executed a massive voluntary evacuation of islands in The Bahamas in the projected path of that hurricane, the prime minister added.

“No doubt, that exercise saved lives,” he said.

“Today, evacuation plans for these have been formalized and refined for use in the future if necessary. We are also considering legislation that will make evacuation mandatory.”

Other initiatives undertaken by The Bahamas Government is the renewing and reviewing of its policy with the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility.

And, to further position the country to prepare for the possible outcome of Hurricane Season 2018, the Government of The Bahamas through its Ministry of Finance, has agreed to a Contingency Credit Facility of $100,000 million through the Inter-American Development Bank to assist with natural disaster recovery if it becomes necessary, the Prime Minister said.

“The drafting of a Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Plan was also crafted to supplement the country’s current Disaster Plan,” he said.

The Plan focuses on five key pillars namely:
• Disaster Risk Management Governance;
• Risk Identification;
• Risk Reduction;
• Preparedness and Response; and,
• Financial Management.

The prime minister said that The Bahamas continues to take an active role as one of the Participating States of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

“I encourage the Conference to ensure that CDEMA continues to be properly and adequately resourced and that the payment of all outstanding contributions are made as a matter of urgency.”

The prime minister advised that the Region must continue to press through the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the United Nations, and in other international forums “for the promised assistance from developing countries to help all of our countries affected by these superstorms in order to build resilience and mitigate against the effects of climate change, overwhelmingly caused by developed countries.”

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This article was written by LINDSAY THOMPSON, Bahamas Information Services.