By Orita Bailey
Individuals of NEMA District 4 ( Old Road to New Guinea) in St. Kitts commenced a 3 day workshop at the Half Way Tree community centre, which will enable them on completion to become more fully conversant with the assessment and mitigation of risk of disasters to their community.
The workshop is the first of an OECS pilot the ‘Implementation of Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction Pilot Projects ‘Mainstreaming Disaster Risk management in OECS Countries’ which seeks to empower communities to become actively involved in assessing risk, mapping hazards and preparing for the mitigation of disasters to their communities.
Mr Cornelius Isaac, Project Co-ordinator for the OECS Projects ‘Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in OECS Countries gave the rationale for the project; “..after a disaster, communities are often left on their own until government or the national agency can get to them, with the skills they will learn on the workshop, they would be able to play a lead role in preparing their communities before the event occurs and therefore be better able to withstand and recover from the event.”
Mr Isaac revealed that as the first of the pilots to be conducted the St. Kitts experience would provide very interesting insights for the future. Late last year, a team of consultants led by the Mr. Isaac, visited St. Kitts on a mission to identify a pilot community for implementation. According to Districts Coordinator, Mrs. Telca Wallace, the Half Way Tree Community was selected and meetings were subsequently held with residents, so that the way forward could be defined.
“One of the reasons we selected the Half Way Tree community, as the ideal beneficiary of this first step,” Mrs. Wallace explained, “is that in lieu of adequate funding to address ongoing issues in that area, it was felt that the combined passion of the residents along with NEMA’s commitment to the process, could give the programme the edge necessary to guarantee success.”
Participants are being trained in the following areas:
(i) Hazard Mapping,
(ii) Vulnerability Analysis,
(iii) Mitigation Planning,
(iv) Housing Retrofit and Safe Construction Techniques
Caribbean islands are very prone to disasters such as hurricanes, storm surges, floods and other hazards that affect communities and reverse development gains overtime. Naturally in those circumstances people turn to governments and the National Agency for assistance, after this training event the communities can take the initiative and take action to mitigate against some risks, armed with the skills and knowledge gained.
The project is funded by the CDB and IDB, with the OECS as the implementing agency and will run for three days.