International Day for Disaster Reduction 2018:  Director General’s Statement

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is pleased to signal it continued commitment to reducing disaster risks throughout the country, and today, joins the international community in commemorating the International Day for Disaster Reduction 2018. This year’s observance is focused on   highlighting the importance of resilience building within the economic sector, with the theme being, “Reducing economic losses from disasters has the power to transform lives.”

Guyana’s economy continues to rely heavily on traditional activities including agriculture and mineral extraction; in the traditional form, however, these activities are highly vulnerable to impacts of hazards, and extensive losses are experienced when disasters occur. Agricultural activities, for instance, are heavily reliant on weather, climate, land, and water, all of which can be drastically changed or compromised during or as a result of a hazard impact, leading to vast reductions in productivity. Evidence of this was seen during the flood of January 2005 when approximately $10.9M in damages and losses was recorded in the agricultural sector, representing approximately 7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (ECLAC, UNDP, 2005). Needless to say, there is great need for the resilience of our economy to be strengthened, in a bid to reduce its disaster risk and to prevent disruption in lives and livelihoods as a result of natural and man-made events.

This year’s theme draws our attention to the fact that economic loss from disasters undermines our efforts as a nation towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as a result of both direct losses to economic activities due to the disaster impact itself, as well as through the corresponding redirection of funds from other sectors in an attempt to rebuild or recoup economic losses. It is pertinent; therefore, that we pay greater attention to strengthening and promoting transformational growth within our economic sector, in a bid to achieve economic resilience and to ensure that our population is protected and resilient against devastation and loss from disasters.

Further, the CDC fully endorses a drive towards economic strengthening through the embracing of technology, innovation and dynamism within the sector; this not only aligns with the organisation’s move towards promoting sustainable development across Guyana, but, more significantly, will lend to the building of communities’ resilience across the nation and improving the quality of lives of all Guyanese.

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