Bridgetown, Barbados – Chairman of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) the Honourable Shawn Edward intends to raise the level of awareness about managing disasters and mitigating the impact as the region continues to face an increasing multi-hazard environment.
He told a media briefing while touring the Barbados-based agency on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 that greater focus must be on expanding public education with a view of getting “people of the region to develop a greater appreciation for disaster management, disaster mitigation, safety” and getting a better understanding of the consequences of disasters on the vulnerable economies of the Caribbean.
“Public education and awareness for me are critical. You can have all the technical expertise, you can invest in all the modern equipment critical to effective disaster management.
But there are too many people in the region who die during times of disasters, deaths, that on review, were avoidable or could have been avoided,” he added.
The Chairman said he does not believe that the average citizen across the Caribbean, knows about “disaster preparedness and mitigation in a way that would cause me to be satisfied” and as such “there’s a lot of work to be done”.
“We still have too many people in the region who approach disaster management and safety in a haphazard way.
And part of our mandate moving forward, or my mandate as chair, at least for the period that I’m presiding over the agency, is to go into schools to tap into the interests of our people at a very young age so they grow up not responding to the dictates of an agency, but they will be growing up with an appreciation for something that has implications for them at every stage of their development.
“If that can be embarked upon and we can achieve this that would be a major accomplishment during my chairmanship,” said Mr. Edward, who is also St. Lucia’s Minister of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training.
Flanked by CDEMA’s Executive Director Ms. Elizabeth Riley and newly appointed Deputy Executive Director, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, the Chairman said the agency will continue to work with other regional organizations and key stakeholders to spread the important messages throughout its 19 Participating States and “within the confines” of students’ classrooms.
“The intention is to complement the work being executed through the “Safe School” programme which is already in some of CDEMA’s Participating States, public service announcements and “effective use of social as well as mainstream media,” Chairman Edward added.
Photo credit, CDEMA: CDEMA’s Executive Director Ms. Elizabeth Riley (L) Chairman of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) the Honourable Shawn Edward (M), Deputy Executive Director, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig (R)