Legislation to be introduced to develop Early Warning Systems

Provisions will soon be made in Guyana’s legislation to allow for the development of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) in Guyana.

MHEWS can address several hazards and/or impacts of a similar or different type in situations where hazardous events may occur alone, simultaneously, cascading or cumulatively over time, taking into account the potential interrelated effects.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips on Thursday

These developments will be made possible through targeted investments by the government, which will be allocated to improving Early Warning Systems in Guyana.

Speaking Thursday at the opening of the Improving Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems’ Governance Consultation with National Disaster Risk Management Offices in the Caribbean workshop, Prime Minister, Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips, said the consultation is an important one for the country.

“The importance of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems for national and local government cannot be underscored. It is important that we have this consultation on a regular basis so that a country like Guyana can update and improve on what we are doing in the areas of Early Warning, because as you heard before, early warning saves lives, and if we can forecast and we can warn people at an early time of any upcoming disaster, it can also minimise the damage that people suffer during times of disaster,” he said at the event held at the Herdmanston Lodge.

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips (centre) and other stakeholders of the ‘Improving Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS)’ workshop on Thursday

The prime minister noted that Guyana’s vulnerability to multi-hazards, specifically floods and droughts, has been further exacerbated by climate change.

As such, the development of early warning systems that are end-to-end and people-centred is critical at this time.

“The government is committed to ensuring these provisions in our legislation to support the Early Warning Systems. Guyana’s efforts at improving Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will allow us to transition to a better system of what is termed impact-based forecasting. Our plans to ensure that Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems, however, will be based on sound scientific and technical approaches that are centred around those in our society who are most at risk or most vulnerable,” the prime minister relayed.

He assured that plans for improving and digitising risk data across all sectors, while simultaneously considering the changing reality and potential for the development of new multi-hazard risks will be addressed.

Participants of the workshop

“We are committed to ensuring that all our efforts are aligned with Guyana’s country work programme, our Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030, CDEMA’s Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.”

PM Phillips said lessons learnt from previous disasters in Guyana and around the region will be incorporated into the government’s approach to mitigating the negative effects caused by a disaster.

Guyana’s goal is to have a robust and comprehensive system of hazard monitoring that will enable individuals, communities, the government, and the business sector in Guyana to take timely action to reduce disaster risk.

As such, the Prime Minister reiterated, the consultation is considered a crucial initiative, and the outcome of the workshops will be incorporated into the framework to improve governance as it pertains to disaster risk reduction in Guyana.

The two-day workshop aims to revise existing governance mechanisms in the Caribbean region to identify good practices and recommendations to monitor and manage multi-hazard early warning systems.

Representatives from the World Bank, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the Guyana Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) are participating.

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