NEOC officially fully operationalised

The multi-stakeholder National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) was on Wednesday formally operationalised to provide an enhanced coordinated mechanism that will prevent duplication of efforts, maximise resources and ensure all involved are working collectively as one team in tackling the current floods situation in Guyana.

The Centre is headed by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), which falls under the Office of the Prime Minister, and will include representatives from several government ministries, necessary agencies that fall under them, the private sector, and civil society.

During Wednesday’s opening ceremony for the Centre, Prime Minister Brigadier Mark Phillips reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting affected citizens as the country goes through these difficult times.

“As a government working with all the agencies involved in bringing immediate relief to those affected communities throughout Guyana,” Prime Minister Phillips said.

The NEOC has been partially in operation since the floods began in May, however it is now being fully activated given the progression of the situation, which saw the President H. E. Mohammed Irfaan Ali, declaring the floods a national disaster on June 9, with the country in a Level Two state of emergency, and five Regions being at Level Three.

“This is an opportune time to activate NEOC with the aim to apprise stakeholders of their participation in the NEOC to determine immediate and medium term needs and maximise use of resources of all agencies,” the Prime Minister related.

The ministries that are a part of the NEOC include the Ministries of Health, Local Government and Regional Development, Finance, Amerindian Affairs, Human Services and Social Security, Agriculture, Public Works, Foreign Affairs and International Development.

The other agencies include the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Defence Force (GDF) through assistance from the Coast Guard and Air Corps, National Data Management Authority (NDMA), and Department of Public Information (DPI).

Through the Ministry of Agriculture there will be representatives from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), the Hydro Meteorological Office, National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA), and the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA).

Also on the NEOC are the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and Guyana Red Cross Society.

The NEOC will be the main decision making body during disaster response, and will be the focal point where all information, and data are shared, analysed, and prioritised to guide decisions making

Where decisions can not be made it would be further sent up to the Prime Minister, President or Cabinet.

“The NEOC will be a very active body to ensure effective response. The intent is for all stakeholders to work very closely with the team to ensure data, guidance and local context are provided to ensure that we have a very detailed assessment which will drive an informed decision making which will then drive early recovery,” CDC Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, remarked.. 

The NEOC held its first meeting on Wednesday, and will continue to hold regular meetings as the country continues to assess the current situation and works towards putting together post-disaster recovery plans. The Centre will be active 24 hours.

During Wednesday’s meeting the various bodies involved were given a chance to provide data, and outline challenges currently facing their respective areas, so that the CDC could be guided in how to coordinate the necessary aid.

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