Trinidad and Tobago moves to reduce the risk of disasterListen /
In Trinidad and Tobago, action has been initiated on all of the priorities called for in the Hyogo Protocol and on the role of international partners in assisting small island states in specific areas related to disaster risk reduction.
Dr. Stephen Ramropp, Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management there's been special emphasis on sustainable development policies, specifically targeting disaster risk reduction.
Dr. Stephen Ramropp: Recently, we concluded the FAHOM 20 exercise and it has revealed several gaps in DRR in our country. This exercise which involved a number of partners regionally and internationally, tested the establishment of a humanitarian operations command centre to coordinate the delivery and distribution of foreign humanitarian assistance into our country in the context of a disaster – in this case – a severe earthquake – and in this case, it was planned before that earthquake of Japan. In order to strengthen our preventative systems, a project called CORE –Communities Organized Ready and Resilient for Emergencies – has been launched and will enable us to target hazard-prone, vulnerable villages and streets at the level of the individual home.
NAR: According to Dr. Ramroop, in the past, there's been much focus towards response and recovery and less so on sustainable disaster risk reduction development policies and programmes. And he explained that with the shift towards sustainability, Trinidad and Tobago is prioritizing targeting the actual householders in their homes and bearing in mind that the country's population is small, the government is satisfied that this is achievable.
Dr. Stephen Ramropp: The strategy involves sensitizing people about mitigation and providing them with information and items such as disaster bags and emergency shelter information. It is a collaborative strategy spanning NGO's and CBO's with the local government disaster officials and the result that is emerging is that all parties are gaining a better understanding of the vulnerabilities, capacity and hazards faced by the villages and streets inn hazard-prone areas. The fact that for all practical purposes our country has been spared major hazards on many occasions has created a certain attitude of complacency.
Mr. Ramroop said that in mobilizing support, they have engaged a number of local organizations, including the Rotary Club, Red Cross society, faith-based organizations, while internationally, they have now signed finance agreements with UNDP and IDB to commence a comprehensive national risk-mapping exercise, national institution capacity-building and launch a massive a massive public education and knowledge programme.
Dobb Bobb, United Nations.