Mon | Sep 21, 2020

Westmoreland gears up to tackle vector-borne diseases

Published:Wednesday | August 12, 2020 | 12:14 AM

More than 25 residents in three Westmoreland communities have been empowered with tools, digital equipment and the requisite training to help them to better fight vector-borne diseases and use geographic information systems (GIS) to support mapping disaster risks and climate change impacts.

The residents from Russia, New Market Oval and Llandilo-Phase 1 were trained in GIS mapping, small business management, and vector-control strategies – including insect screen construction. They had recently participated in a training series on ecosystem-based livelihood approaches, which was held under the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation’s (WMC) Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction Technology and Strategies to Improve Community Resilience (CARTS) project.

The provision of the equipment is a boon for the trainees, many of whom had not been able to use their training due to the impact of COVID-19.

Denton Campbell of Russia in Savanna-la-Mar completed the vector-control aid programme and says the tools will bring him closer to self-development through entrepreneurship.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

“The programme can create employment, and that is one of our biggest problems in Russia. So I decided to participate to help others. Eight of us in the programme formed a group and we are pursuing a business in insect screen and mesh covers for [water] drums. We have already presented our business plan to a member of the Social Development Commission and it was well received,” said Campbell. He also vowed to educate fellow residents of Russia so they will better understand the importance of putting measures in place to prevent or, at the bare minimum, stem the tide of vector-borne diseases.

The equipment, presented by the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund of the Caribbean Development Bank and the WMC, included tablet computers, power drills, saws, hammers and GIS mapping equipment. At the toolkit presentation, the trainees also received their certificates from the two-month-long ecosystem-based enhancement livelihood pilot training programme.

CARTS Project Manager Shadae Allen explained that the pilot programme formed part of the municipal council’s local sustainable development plan.

She said the integrated vector aid component was meant to “equip the residents of the community or the training participants with the necessary skills to adapt or to help eliminate or reduce the risk of any kind of vector-borne diseases”. The programme covered construction of insect screens for doors and windows, mesh covers for water containers, as well as small business management.

Graduate of the GIS programme, Clayton Parchment, is also eager to put his new skills into practice. The training, developed jointly by the HEART Trust and The University of the West Indies, uses precise geospatial mapping technologies to generate, collect, log, and record disaster-related data in real-time to a central server for reference. The tablets with mapping applications which the trainees received, are expected to help with disaster recovery and response.

“We’ve actually trained some persons in initial damage assessment to assist with the response effort of disasters,” Allen said, adding that CARTS will enlist the assistance of the GIS graduates for upcoming land-use survey in the parish.