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

Newsletter for Latin America and the Caribbean        Inssue No. 15, 1999


A Regional Approach to Disaster Management in the Caribbean

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) has played an important role in enhancing preparedness in the region. Founded by CARICOM Member States, CDERA followed the efforts of the Pan-Caribbean Disaster Preparedness Project (PCDPPP), which made significant interventions in disaster management in the region from 1980 to 1991 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNDRO, PAHO/WHO, Red Cross and other international agencies.

At the end of 1998, the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) agreed to finance a 450,000 ECU project presented by CDERA in order to consolidate disaster preparedness interventions within the framework of its regional DIPECHO disaster prevention programme. To achieve its objectives, CDERA will strengthen its ability to collect and disseminate information on disaster management activities and provide support to national disaster mitigation and response organizations. CDERA’s longer-term goal is to entrench disaster awareness and preparedness in the region through a sustainable regional disaster preparedness programme for schools and the electronic media.

Training college administrators and teachers will enhance school disaster preparedness and emergency planning. The “train the trainer” system is expected to have a multiplier effect for the teaching of disaster preparedness and the use of educational materials dealing with this issue. The disaster preparedness manual produced in 1989 by UNESCO will be updated for wider dissemination in Caribbean schools. A video on disaster preparedness will be developed for 7-11 year old students, while reading and audio-visual material will be made available to older students. The aim will be to incorporate these interactive materials into the geography, social studies and family life education syllabuses of secondary schools.

To guarantee the sustainability of the project, a cadre of specialists will be trained to lead national workshops in the various tenets of disaster preparedness. The development of a disaster impact databank will help promote mitigation-oriented construction practices in schools, while governments in the region will be encouraged to adopt guidelines for the maintenance and retrofitting of school facilities. Another objective is to obtain preferential treatment by insurance and financing agencies for facilities observing disaster loss reduction practices.

CDERA will work in close collaboration with Caribbean Mass Communications (CARIMAC), the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) and the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) to enhance emergency broadcasts in the region. Protocols governing inter-island emergency broadcasts will be developed and forty Mass Communications students will be trained in emergency broadcast procedures. Through acquisition of basic emergency broadcast equipment, CDERA will be able to link directly with the regional radio station (CANA) and relay crucial information during emergencies. Improved emergency telecommunications arrangements should also facilitate rapid information dissemination under all conditions. Improvements in information technology, particularly the Internet, provide new opportunities for information sharing. Disaster management in the Caribbean should take full advantage of these opportunities.

The third Caribbean Conference on Natural Hazards was convened in Barbados from 13 to 15 October at the invitation of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA). The conference brought together all of IDNDR’s main partners operating at various levels in the Caribbean, as well as representatives of national governments. A representative of the IDNDR Secretariat delivered the keynote address, in which the future of disaster reduction was presented in the light of the conclusions of the IDNDR Programme Forum and the relevant ECOSOC Resolution. Participants expressed particular satisfaction with the strengthened regional focus of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Disaster Reduction, which will succeed the IDNDR Framework. Both CDERA and UNDP commended the IDNDR for the work done during the Decade. In his inaugural statement, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Barbados stressed the importance of pursuing the goals of the Decade within regional and national development programmes.

For more information, please contact:
The Garrison, St. Michael
Tel (1-246) 436-9651 Fax (1-246) 437-7649