International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001

Partners in action


Rough season

"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing…”
Alexander Pope

As we, in the Greater Caribbean (GC), finally get around to ushering in the Hurricane Season; after the long World Cup hiatus on our economies, government, scandals and all the other usual amenities with which human existence is blessed, and with memories of Ivan the Terrible still fresh upon minds, one cannot but notice the marked improvement in our region’s attitudes towards disaster prevention and mitigation. Especially, when compared to this same time last year.

It is clear that when Ivan, in 2004, and the 27 storms of 2005 barreled through, or near, our region, we finally put it through our collective skull, at least at a certain level, that natural disasters only happen to other people, until they happen to you. Looking into the mirror of Grenada, where most of our brethren were left homeless and jobless almost overnight, is certainly sobering, and our reaction, though a good sign of maturity, is also proof of our collective bad memory. Remember that if God were Trini or Venezuelan (yeah, we have that saying too, which speaks volumes about its veracity) Hurricane Flora in 1963 would not have killed over 7,000, nor visited such destruction upon Tobago, that it changed the economy of the island from cash-crop agriculture, to tourism, and fishing with one fell swoop. Neither would the mudslides near Caracas in 1999 have taken tens of thousands of lives.

Though the current renaissance in interest, regarding preparedness and mitigation, as opposed to the traditional focus on response, can only be applauded, there still remains a general tendency towards a philosophy of the physical, whereby preparedness and mitigation are seen as the act of stockpiling certain goods and keeping the helicopter fuelled (both excellent ideas, don’t get me wrong). Another tendency in the same vein tells us that early-warning is a synonym for megabucks radar systems and millionaire buoys. However, preparedness and mitigation when conceived as a year-round exercise in saving lives and property as well as maximising the potential for recovery is much more. It is a state of mind, and the only permanent (not to mention wholesome and legal) way of changing one of those is through education.

This is where the radio soap opera on natural disasters in the GC entitled: “The Rough Season” comes in. Acknowledging that better disaster preparedness on the part of the public in general would reduce the impact of disasters, The Rough Season will be used as a forum for sharing and disseminating information pertaining to disaster management and will seek to sensitise the general public by increasing and promoting knowledge in the area of natural disasters, thus improving the attitude toward disasters and fostering preparation and mitigation efforts in the English-speaking GC.

Though supported by two successful experiences in Central America, The Rough Season is a bespoke, culture-specific product fashioned with the English-speaking GC in mind. The settings for the programme, in terms of situations, accents, and even original music and “well-loved” stereotypes, will be readily recognisable to any inhabitant, or even seasoned visitor, to the sub-region. The methodology draws upon the creative use of a unique style of educational theatre for the delivery of key messages in an entertaining, manner, and is the artistic creation of Arts-in-Action at the Centre for Creative and Festival Arts University of the West Indies St Augustine.

National preparation and mitigation plans are crucial, but, one of the many value-added features of The Rough Season, is its focus on community-empowerment as a major driving-force for implementation, with more than a passing nod to the key role played by women in our communities, particularly those poised precariously in high-vulnerability zones. Of course, being an educational tool, the show also has children as a special “target” audience.

This radio programme is emblematic of the tangible results made possible through joint and coordinated efforts amongst various organisations, namely: the Association of Caribbean States, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Pan American Health Organisation, which joined efforts in order to bring this project to fruition. With the generous support of the Canadian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago, the twin island nation aired the pilot last July on 90.5 FM at 11:00am and Heartbeat 103.5 FM Radio for Women at 12:45pm as well as on Tuesday 25th July on I95.5 FM at 2:45pm. Please check the media for further scheduling information. Enjoy, learn and avoid a little knowledge.

For further information, please contact:
Luis Carpio Director de Transporte y Desastres Naturales de la Asociación de Estados del Caribe
Los puntos de vista expresados no son necesariamente los puntos de vista oficiales de la AEC.