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The mandate of the Vulnerable Persons Committee??is to highlight issues and concerns associated with the evacuation of vulnerable persons in the event of disasters. (FP)??

Public awareness initiatives such as the one held at the Alexandra School in Queen’s Street, St. Peter, last Saturday by the Vulnerable Persons’ Committee, will go a long way in sensitising Barbadians about the plight of these individuals as well as dispelling some of the myths.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Donna Cadogan, made this observation during her address at the event which featured displays of life-saving equipment for the disabled in the event of a disaster, as well as a wealth of information.

"The value of this type of information must not be underestimated. It allows us to institute a plan that will be effective in alleviating some of the dislocation and stress which we see can come about for some individuals as well as eliminate or reduce loss of life and property, [and] provide for restoration and recovery after the event.

"…One of the products of this Committee has been the development of a handbook, which not only outlines its terms of reference and role but defines what categories of persons are considered to be vulnerable and also lists the various stakeholders involved in the evacuation process," Mrs. Cadogan said.

The Committee’s mandate is to heighten the awareness of issues and concerns associated with the evacuation of vulnerable persons in the event of disasters.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary said that its remit was in keeping with Government’s objectives to ensure that the economic and social well-being of all Barbadians was taken into account in "our planning processes".

The major focus of the Committee is the establishment and maintenance of a database that will store information on the vulnerable in society and outline a set of actions to be undertaken at the national level in the event of a major hazard.

Mrs. Cadogan noted that the Ministry and the Committee were both of the view that a responsible community had to be responsive to the needs of all of its members, particularly the vulnerable and those at risk.

She pointed out that vulnerability was not insurmountable but could be relieved or completely remedied through effective support services.?? However, she emphasised that how this support was provided and structured was critical.

"I note your proposal to conduct a simulation disaster preparedness exercise to test your upgraded plan and want to let you know that you have the Ministry’s fullest support for this important initiative. [Activities like these] all contribute to a greater level of understanding of the issues regarding vulnerable persons and those at special risk.

"Indeed, the Ministry has received many expressions of commendation on the work of this Committee and I can let you know that your efforts are being recognised and are bearing fruit. I, too, offer my sincere appreciation for the work that you have been doing," Mrs. Cadogan stated.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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