Statement from the Prime Minister and Minister with Responsibility for Disaster Risk Management in Guyana
International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction 2020
The International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR) is observed annually on October 13, having started in 1989 when the United Nations (UN) General Assembly recognised the need for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. This year, 2020, has undoubtedly validated the importance of that decision taken by the Assembly some thirty-one (31) years ago and has demonstrated the relevance and need for such transformational insight and leadership in disaster reduction even in present day context.
IDDRR 2020 fittingly is focused on the pivotal role of Disaster Risk Governance in the building of resilience and managing disasters. One of the main functions of Government is to provide stewardship to our country in its bid towards development, with critical responsibility for the quality of life of the population through the economic choices and administrative processes that will promote equity, poverty reduction and inclusiveness. The principles of good governance provide the key to sustainable development and, by implication, to effective disaster risk reduction.
The Government of Guyana is committed to integrating the principles of efficient and effective governance into our national Disaster Risk Management (DRM) framework, which will in turn safeguard Guyanese lives, property and the environment from disasters. In our plight to ensure such integration within overall national development planning, our governance structure has provided a multi-sectoral framework for disaster risk reduction planning and coordination among government agencies, international partners, civil society and the private sector, through the mechanisms of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Coordination Platform and the National Emergency Operations Centre. This very mechanism has afforded the activation and operation of the National Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force, and the implementation of holistic and coherent response strategies to address the impacts and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic locally.
Guyana has long departed from the reactive approach to hazard management and it is the intention of the Government of Guyana to facilitate greater strides towards a more extensive and comprehensive approach. Some of our immediate goals to facilitate this include the intended adoption and enforcement of DRM legislation for Guyana, the integration of DRM into the education system, and the concretising of a strong institutional framework for coordination of risk reduction and emergency response at all levels. Moreover, it is the Government’s intention to strengthen and upgrade existing legislation and regulations to ensure the thorough integration of disaster risk analyses in all aspects of infrastructural and community development, to prevent the creation of new risks and reduce existing risks. The recent commencement of oil and gas operations in Guyana, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have justified the need for Disaster Risk Governance which is dynamic and relevant to both traditional and newly emerging threats. The Office of the Prime Minister, and by extension, the Government of Guyana, is proud to join with the international community today in the commemoration of another observance of the IDDRR. More importantly, I am elated that this year’s occurrence has provided me the opportunity to iterate the Government of Guyana’s commitment to such dynamism in local hazard management, to elevate DRM as a national policy priority and to mainstream DRM into all aspects of our country’s national development efforts.