CDC hosts consultation on draft Disaster Risk Management Bill

Georgetown, Guyana – (October 18, 2018) The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) which is a beneficiary of financing from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and Services for the Implementation of External Aid 2018 (SIEA) Framework, today, hosted a Disaster Risk Management Legislation Meeting with stakeholders and international consultants.  The meeting, which was held at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown, aimed at revising the existing Sea and River Defence Act and to draft a new Disaster Risk Management Bill.

Legislative Drafting Expert, Mr. Chris Hedley, addressing stakeholders at the meeting, said that consultations are a key component in developing the legislation because it provides a different perspective at both the regional and local levels, which would aid in providing a more integrated perspective in the development of the Bill.

“We want to, in our consultations with stakeholders, start with a blank page because there is already a lot happening here [in Guyana]. We think it is worthwhile getting into each region as each region presents particular…disaster and emergency threats,” he said.

Head of the Office of Climate Change (OCC), Mrs. Janelle Christian said that the development of the DRM draft legislation should be looked at from a perspective of prevention to determine Guyana’s vulnerability levels through incidence occurrence indicators to assess the economic cost of disasters.  “I really do believe that we have to have a comprehensive look at what has been the damage and really putting a value to that.  What are the implications going forward?  It is important for us to understand the risk factors and vulnerability,” she said.

Meanwhile, Disaster Risk Management Consultant, Mr. Fernando Aragon, during his presentation, said that there are several issues that need to be addressed in drafting the new Bill, particularly in areas such institutional overlapping, preventative actions, the lack of efficient early warning systems and the important role that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play in strengthening information management and issues related to evacuation and relocation actions.  “It is very important to be clear on the meaning of all the concepts related to the DRM…because it is a way of not only framing concepts, but actions when drafting this new Bill,” he said.

The meeting also sought to highlight potential disasters, stakeholders’ roles in planning and prevention, and defining levels or ownership and responsibilities of various sectors.  Stakeholders were informed that this forum will deal primarily with focus groups and regional consultations within each region.  The consultants are working to complete the technical draft of the Bill to be presented to the Government by November 30, 2018.

Representatives from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture also attended the meeting.