ACTING DIRECTOR General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson, is pushing for the National Disaster Recovery Fund to be increased by 200 per cent. He said this would allow the country to properly tackle disasters and their effects.
"In order for us to do proper work, looking at Hurricane Gilbert as a baseline, we want that (figure) to be roughly $50 billion," he said. Currently, the fund is $250 million. Thompson was among speakers at the organisation's state-of-readiness briefing yesterday. The event was held on the anniversary of Hurricane Gilbert, which crippled Jamaica in 1988. Thompson's suggestion drew snickers from the gathering, but he argued the figure was realistic.
"A part of the protocol under the fund is infrastructure rehabilitation and to do infrastructural work is quite significant," Thompson asserted.
"...For the past 10 years or so, the average loss per annum from disasters, and most of them are hydrometeorological events, is $14 billion per annum and that is roughly 2.6 per cent of our gross domestic product."
He said Jamaica was impacted more than other Caribbean islands over the past 25 years, showing a higher level of vulnerability.
Commenting on some priorities for 2013/2014, Thompson said the organisation would continue advancing its resilience-building programme, complete the community-based landslide project, and examine the new disaster risk-reduction bill. He also said ODPEM would be looking to further enhance its earthquake and tsunami readiness while pushing for the establishment of a comprehensive disaster risk-management policy.