ODPEM highlights importance of community emergency disaster response Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

As Jamaica approaches the start of the 2024 hurricane season, the Acting Director General for the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson, has underscored the importance of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).

“If something happens to you, who is the first person that will come to your aid? It’s your neighbour, if you’re neighbourly, which everyone should be,” Thompson said.

He was recently addressing the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Disaster Risk Resilience Knowledge Exchange at the UNDP’s Lady Musgrave Road offices in Kingston.

Thompson explained that it is essential for communities to be empowered to respond to themselves within the first 24 hours of a disaster.

“We have been doing a lot of work within that area to ensure that the community mechanism is strong enough where there are community response teams, [and] they have a full appreciation of the population that they have to deal with – persons with disabilities, the elderly, single-mother homes – so they can respond to their needs,” he explained.

CERT supports the work of disaster preparedness and response agencies in reducing personal injuries, property loss and damage, and the interruption of business operations due to disasters, while enhancing recovery capacity.

UNDP Resident Representative, Kishan Khoday, pledged to deepen support for resilience interventions that shore up national capacities to mitigate climate shocks.

“The Caribbean is seven times more likely to be hit by natural disasters and sustain damage to GDP (gross domestic product) six times higher than other larger economies. This is expected to get worse, of course, in coming years with more frequent and severe climate-induced disasters unless, of course, urgent action is taken,” he advised.

Khoday said UNDP stands as the United Nation’s largest implementer of grant assistance for climate change and the environment with more than US$4 billion of programming ongoing in over 140 countries and territories.