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National Hazard Mitigation Policy for St. Lucia in the Making

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 - Delegates representing the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) on Tuesday, May 27, 2003 began a three-day workshop here, aimed at assisting the Government of St. Lucia in the development of a National Hazard Mitigation Policy. The delegates have begun examining ways and means of reducing the effects of numerous hazards that Caribbean states are susceptible to like hurricanes, tropical storms, volcanic activity and droughts.

This week’s three-day exercise comes after huge sums have been invested in the region over the years in relation to disaster management, with little or no demonstrated reduction in the vulnerability of Caribbean states to natural hazards. “It has become clear to CDB that there was a need to assist our BMCs to shift from the traditional approach of managing disasters, through the use of reactive methods such as disaster response and rehabilitation, to one of managing hazard risk, emphasising the proactive approaches to hazard mitigation and prevention,” said Dr. Cassandra Rogers, Consultant Project Manager of the Disaster Mitigation Facility of the CDB to the opening ceremony.

In light of that the CDB among others like CDERA, have made firm commitments to mainstream disaster mitigation into development planning decision-making as a key strategy towards vulnerability reduction. Given the increasing cost associated with natural disasters, more and more agencies and regional governments are paying keen attention, with the St. Lucian government being no exception. “Recent hazard events affecting St. Lucia have further exposed the fragility of the social and economic infrastructure of a country striving to improve the well being of its people. Tropical Storm Lily in 2002 resulted in over EC$20,000,000 in direct losses across a range of sectors including transport, business, agriculture and environment, said Avril Alexander, a representative of CDERA to the three day event. She went on, “this event along with others, have left no doubt that the sustainability of our hard fought socio economic progress is very much in question if the issue of loss reduction is not addressed aggressively and urgently.”

Both CDB and CDERA have developed a Model National Hazard Mitigation Policy for the Caribbean which provides a framework by which individual countries may implement hazard mitigation measures in a structured manner. It will also serve as a guide allowing for the development of country-specific national policies. The St. Lucia exercise is the 4th in the seven part series funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and United States Aid Agency (USAID).

The exercise is taking place at the Office Shop’s Conference Room in Sans Souci.

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