THE EDITOR, Sir:
Many of us were taught since primary school that 18.1315N, 77.2736W were the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates of Jamaica. Located in the Greater Antilles at the "foot of Cuba", my grade six teacher would say.
Another interesting and not-so-obscure fact about this location is that it sits in a hurricane hot spot, directly in the path of these major weather systems that have wreaked havoc on countries in the past, including our own.
Charlie (1951), Gilbert (1988) and Ivan (2004) are all examples of hurricanes that really got our knickers in a bunch. Fast-forward to 2012 and it befuddles me as to why a country situated in the direct path of hurricanes - and one which has experienced its fair share of hurricanes in the distant and proximal past - still fails to budget for this catastrophe.
The head of the National Solid Waste Management Authority stated that no monetary allocation is given to the agency to act after a hurricane has mauled the island. The education ministry is in need of approximately $120 million, and the agriculture industry almost $1 billion, according to the October 28, 2012 edition of The Sunday Gleaner, as a result of Sandy, and no one knows where the first dollar will come from.
Yes, we understand that we are not the most economically well-off country in the world, or even in the Caribbean, for that matter, but more can be done to prepare for these disasters. As my mom would always say, "If is even a dollar".
All we hear is cloned lip synching as to how prepared the island is and how we will make it through. It would seem as if what they refer to as 'being prepared' is merely the expectation that hurricanes, at least immediately, don't pose an existential threat to the island. And so we are 'prepared' simply because we will be here when the storm blows over.
NEED TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
The OECD Journal article titled 'Budgeting for disasters: focusing on the good times' states that natural disasters are most destructive of living standards in small or poor countries. It then goes on to list several methods that poor countries can employ to make funds readily available in the event of a natural disaster.
Ex ante budgeting reduces the losses incurred by these poor countries in the event of a disaster, as it reduces the time needed for recovery and the losses that would be incurred during that time.
The Government needs to start paying more attention to ex ante budgeting for natural disasters. It may seem a cost today, but may be a benefit tomorrow.