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We Are Depending On Jamaica- Regional Body Looks to ODEPM for Hurricane Readiness

Published:Thursday | June 4, 2015 | 6:00 AM
Ronald Jackson

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, has made a plea for Jamaica to continue displaying leadership in its hurricane preparedness efforts.

Speaking with The Gleaner he indicated that the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has one of the more advanced emergency response mechanisms in the region. He said, however, that this was not a licence to relax hurricane preparedness efforts.

"We can't sit on yesterday's success, we have to keep setting the bar and I would love to see us continue to strive. Jamaica is one of the countries that CDEMA depends on, as a subregional focal point. It is almost like the big brother for the northern Caribbean, so we depend on Jamaica to be at a particular level of readiness so that it can support the subregional response process," he said.

governance structure

When asked to rank the preparedness mechanisms of ODPEM in relation to its counterparts in the region, Jackson pointed out that the local disaster agency has been able to accomplish much because of its governance structure.

"Jamaica, fortunately, has systems that are a lot more developed than a number of the member states, and this could be primarily due to our history; also the fact that we have a national disaster office that has benefited from the type of governance in relation to its autonomy. Also the fact that it was established as a statutory body," he said.

Jackson explained that other countries in the region have been improving their response mechanism.

"The region, though, is catching up. I would not single out Jamaica. We are seeing significant improvement in the British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Barbados, so there are strengths right across and, yes, Jamaica remains one of the better prepared countries, but I think the region is fast trying to catch up," he said.

According to Jackson, CDEMA has been involved in raising funds to assist countries during disasters and stands ready to assist in the event of a hurricane.