Disaster Preparedness Underfunded
The level of funding allocated to disaster risk management has become a concern for executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Ronald Jackson.
In giving his assessment of the region's preparedness for the hurricane season, Jackson indicated that the lack of funding may create a challenge for the region.
"Disaster risk management is not an area that there is extensive public spending around, and I think that, in itself, presents a challenge for the region going forward," he said in an interview with The Gleaner.
"Disaster preparedness is underfunded right across the region. There is this preoccupation with the subject of climate change in relation to renewable energy, which I am not saying there should not be, but one of the things we are not seeing is the reduction of risk, and that is not happening in the Caribbean, to a large extent," he added.
In regards to a recommended level of funding, Jackson pointed to particular figures.
"There are figures thrown out there by international organisations. We have heard one per cent of the national budget used as a figure that should be invested in disaster risk reduction, but it is not simply just the emergency management agencies, but also your fire services and health services," he said.
Jackson also raised concerns about first-responder services.
"While there have been significant successes in terms of legislation and strategies developed, there are still quite a bit of gaps in the area of preparedness and response, primarily in relation to government first-responder services ... . The various offices require strengthening of the technical human resources to provide oversight, coordination and guidance of the national programme," he said.