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District Emergency Organisations (DEO) across the island have been assured of Government’s support regarding efforts to ???breathe new life’ into the DEO mechanism.

This was emphasised yesterday by Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, as he delivered opening remarks at the St. Michael North East DEO meeting, at the Church of the Resurrection in Green Hill, St. Michael.

Mr. Brathwaite told his audience that he was "heartened" by the turnout and response to the evening’s gathering and he hoped "this was a positive sign of things to come".

Conceding that the impact of Tropical Storm Tomas in October last year, along with a series of flash flooding events which occurred around the same time had underscored the need for greater decentralisation of emergency response, the Attorney General pointed out that "every community has the capability to provide an effective response geared at saving lives, property and livelihoods."

He added: "It was equally important too for the community to lead disaster risk reduction initiatives which would assist in the prevention and mitigation of negative impacts from these threats".

The Minister also called for a ???greater partnership’ between the DEO mechanism and the Constituency Councils in their communities, stating "in the absence of local government, the Constituency Councils have been established to allow for more involvement of community in the day-to day operations and management at the local level".

Explaining that plans are afoot to reinstitute the DEO Advisory Council and the establishment of a DEM Standing Committee on Community Disaster Risk

Reduction, Mr. Brathwaite stressed that both of these were governance structures – one aimed at the internal management of the DEOs and the other falling under the ambit of the DEM.

"With these structures, one is better able to access international, regional and national funds to support approved activities in the communities across Barbados," the Attorney General clarified.

Expressing the hope as Minister to see each parish almost self- sufficient in its ability to respond to disasters at least in the initial stages with assistance from the DEM at the centre, the Attorney General stressed, ???we must, therefore, work towards this objective."??

"It means that each DEO must be a well-oiled machine ready to respond at each and any emergency… we are only as strong as our weakest link.?? Volunteerism in a DEO has to be community-centred and not politically-centred," the Minister asserted. (TB/BGIS)


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