Acting Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Michael Lashley, in conversation with Executive Director of CDEMA, Jeremy Collymore, before the start of the opening ceremony. (G. Brewster/BGIS)

Government remains committed to developing a Comprehensive Disaster Management policy, in relation to Disaster Risk Reduction.

Acting Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Michael Lashley, echoed these sentiments as he addressed the Opening Ceremony of the Third Meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), this morning at the Savannah Hotel.

He said: "Any wise government is aware that if the areas of disaster risk reduction are neglected, when a hazard strikes the economic impact will be severe due to the ensuing disaster."

While stressing that in trying to cultivate this policy, [Government] had to become creative in developing mechanisms for the execution of [our] programmes, the Acting Attorney General noted that one of the main constraints was limited financial resources.

Moreover, he expressed the option of government seeking international funding as well as the additional option of private sector sponsorship to execute some of the programmes to be undertaken.

Commenting that "the broad goal of comprehensive disaster management was to reduce disaster risk in the region", Mr. Lashley also took the opportunity to praise CDEMA for being at the forefront of promoting their comprehensive disaster management approach throughout its participating states.?? However, he lamented that again, due to financial constraints, the national disaster agency – Department of Emergency Management (DEM) has been slow, though steady in its approach to equipping the department with the "capacity necessary to achieve its mandate."

He continued:?? "It is for this reason that government is currently addressing the institutional strengthening of the DEM through an institutional audit that is being conducted by the Ministry of the Civil Service."

Minister Lashley also touched on the topic of climate change, noting that it was a major cause of long-term shifts in weather conditions and was the possible cause of "increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events."?? He further added:?? "Most disasters, or more correctly, hazards that lead to disaster, cannot be prevented.?? However, their effects can be mitigated.?? Hazards may be natural in origin, but it is the way in which societies have developed that causes them to become disasters," he suggested.

The Acting Attorney General also lauded outgoing Executive Director of CDEMA, Jeremy Collymore who is set to demit office at year-end.

He told attendees: "Mr. Collymore has performed sterling service for the past 20 years at CDEMA and has developed an organisation of which we, in the Caribbean, can be proud."


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