Permanent secretaries and senior public servants met in Kingstown on Wednesday to fashion a national comprehensive disaster management (CDM) policy and strategy for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Once finalized, the country is expected to adopt and implement the CDM policy for the period 2014 to 2023.
Among other things, the draft policy calls for a guarantee to safer and more resilient communities throughout SVG in which the impact of hazards will not hamper economic development and the eco-systems, but rather, would provide for a better quality of life and preservation of the environment.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (Nemo) Howie Prince said that NEMO has been working on the draft policy with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and Consultant Sharlene DaBreo for several years.
Prince said the workshop with the permanent secretaries and senior public servants is important as they are the ones who can ensure that “line items are written for budgetary allocations for disaster risk management.” In this regard, Prince said that it is important that the permanent secretaries become familiar with the CDM policy in order to understand what needs to be done so that they can reflect such in their presentations to the Ministry of Finance.
Meanwhile representative from CDEMA, Donna Pierre, said the policy is a critical step as “we recognize how vulnerable we are as a region to significant hazard impacts.” Of note she said is the most recent Christmas Eve low-level trough that significantly affected communities in SVG, St. Lucia and Dominica.
Pierre said that the trough is a “reminder to our governments of the need for an integrated risk management policy framework which seeks to build resilience within our communities, our economies and livelihoods.”
The CDEMA representative considers the workshop today as a key process, one that, with the inputs from the permanent secretaries, would bring some refinements to the document, which has been developed, through a broad based participatory mechanism.
And Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey told the permanent secretaries that the CDM policy is important as SVG, like other nations must adapt in a changing environment. Pompey said that the participants must see their input in designing the policy as “a work of art that will become a legacy to a generation of Vincentians who will carry the torch” since most of the senior public servants would be retired by 2013, the time-frame which the CDM policy is expected to cover.