CDC will have ‘more legislative teeth’ when Draft Disaster Risk Management Bill is passed – IDB Specialist

Georgetown, GINA, July 18, 2013

 

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is garnering stakeholder feedback on the proposed Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Bill that addresses the need for a multi-sectoral response to potential disasters, stakeholders’ roles, and defining levels or ownership and responsibilities of various sectors.

At a two-day seminar held at the CDC, Thomas Lands, and sponsored by the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB), the institution’s Disaster Risk Management Lead Specialist Dr. Cassandra Rogers noted that the IDB is committed to assisting countries, such as Guyana, with efforts to improve their rating on the Risk Management Index. This index is a measure used by the IDB to show a country’s readiness for disaster preparedness, specifically in terms of risk management, and Guyana is rated at 31.54.

CDC Director Col rt. Chabilall Ramsarup addressing stakeholders at the National workshop to present the Draft Disaster Risk Management Bill

Dr Rogers said that the Bill when passed will give the CDC more powers within the legal framework to act. “It will give it more legislative teeth,” she said.

 

“All of the Caribbean’s 23 countries that the IDB assists with funding are below the acceptable rating of 50,” said Dr. Rogers. She described the index as one used to rate several policy areas of risk management, “These are government and financial protection, preparedness and response prevention and mitigation, disaster management”.

Stakeholders at the National workshop to present the Draft Disaster Risk management Bill

 

The Guyana Government was praised by Dr. Rogers for implementing a series of important initiatives to improve its disaster risk management policy since the 2005 floods, but added that, “it still has a long way to go”. Guyana will improve its Risk Management Index rating once it continues to “focus on risk identification and prevention, and mitigation”, Dr. Rogers said.

IDB Disaster Risk Management Lead Specialist Dr. Cassandra Rogers addressing stakeholders at the National workshop to present the Draft Disaster Risk Management Bill

The commitment by Guyana to implement a comprehensive disaster risk management plan is in keeping with Caricom’s endorsed regional strategy for dealing with managing disaster risks.

“It makes a very clear statement that traditionally our countries have focused on preparing for disasters and responding to disasters, but that essentially does not significantly reduce your vulnerability and that’s what you want to do”.

 

She said in closing that, “We‘ve got to identify the risks then put measures in place to reduce that risk through prevention and mitigation, and financial protection.”

Consultant and Attorney at Law Ms. Judy Daniels addressing stakeholders at the National workshop to present the Draft Disaster Risk Management Bill

The Draft DRM Bill was crafted by Consultant and Attorney at Law Ms. Judy Daniels, who described the proposed legislation as, “A paradigm shift in thinking and a work in progress that must be responsive to your needs”. She drew an analogy with that of the legislation being similar to a marriage, “You have to consider the financial side of what you’re getting into, you have to consider the authority, who’s responsible and you have to take up the break-up side of the matter before you get into it”.

 

Ms. Daniels said that three major issues were considered while drafting the bill, “The integration of disaster risk consideration, the development and strengthening of institutions and the systematic integration of risk management approaches and implementation of emergency response and recovery”. It was noted that the proposed legislation like many others within the Caribbean, required regulations to be effective, and monitoring to determine how effective the measures have been, once implemented.

Stakeholders at the National workshop to present the Civil Defence Commission’s Draft Disaster Risk Management Bill

In brief remarks, CDC’s Director Col Rt’d. Chabilall Ramsarup said a grant of  US $1M from the IDB has been invaluable since the organisation has been able to undertake a national public education campaign, formulate an Integrated Disaster Risk Management Plan, conduct venerability assessments, set up evacuation plans and conduct several training exercises, such as ‘Floodgate’ due to be conducted in October. All of these plans he said are scheduled to be completed by December this year.

Col Ramsarup expressed the hope that stakeholders and donor agencies continue to offer, what he described as invaluable support, “This support is key to enhancing the CDC’s capacity and capability to manage potential disasters”.

After consultations, the draft Disaster Risk Management Bill will be reviewed by Cabinet, once given the okay, it will then be plaid before the National Assembly and once approved, sent to the President for his assent and resultant passage into law.

 

Representatives from various agencies and ministries are participating in the woprkshop.

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