Jamaica is developing a national tsunami response plan


BROOKLYN, NY – Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Desmond McKenzie, says the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has developed a National Tsunami Response Plan and Standing Order Procedure for Jamaica, and it is now awaiting approval from the National Disaster Risk Management Council.

“This vital aspect of our disaster risk reduction program was made possible by a wide range of partners that have assisted us in making [it] a reality,” he said, adding that they include the governments of Chile and Costa Rica, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Addressing the closing ceremony of the seventh semi-virtual Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP21), Old Harbour Bay in St. Catherine, southeast of here, is in the final stage of receiving its tsunami-ready community designation under UNESCO’s Tsunami-ready Programme.

“The community, which is one of our largest fishing villages, will become the first Jamaican tsunami-ready community in short order,” he added.

McKenzie, who noted that tsunamis claimed over 250,000 lives between 1998 and 2017, said the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction “stands in solidarity and offers condolences to families globally who have lost loved ones.”

He said Jamaica has and remains actively focused on preventing the loss of lives to this phenomenon of nature.

World Tsunami Day is being observed on Friday, November 5.

McKenzie told the RP21, held under the theme: ‘Building Resilient Economies in the Americas and the Caribbean,” that there is a need for cooperation among countries in the region to develop solutions for disaster risk reduction.

He said that such solutions are imperative, particularly for small island developing states (SIDS) that are most vulnerable and which, on average, incur damage equivalent to 2.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) every year.

The event, which ended on Thursday, aimed to raise awareness about the increasing economic and human costs of disasters in the Americas and the Caribbean, including the unique challenges facing SIDS.

“It will produce, through our discussions, the next steps we will take as we work to develop and increase resilience in our economies and our societies,” McKenzie said.

The Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Alicia Barsena, said groups most affected by disasters should be prioritized in discussions related to DRR.

“Disaster risk reduction policies should focus on the human dimension… beyond any economic considerations. It is an ethical imperative that not only should no one be left behind in the reconstruction process but that the groups that have the greatest vulnerability have priority,” she said.

The Regional Platform was chaired by the Jamaica government and co-organized with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) – Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, and the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).


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