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Disaster Risk Management law tabled in Parliament

Published:Friday | July 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM

LONG-AWAITED LEGISLATION to empower local disaster managers to legally evacuate persons deemed at risk, as a prevention measure, has been tabled in the House of Representatives.

The proposed Disaster Risk Management law makes provision for the identification and description of high-risk areas as "specially vulnerable areas", and prescribes the necessary action to be taken should a disaster occur.

The bill, which makes sweeping changes to Jamaica's disaster-management framework, was tabled on Tuesday in the House of Representatives.

The 54-page bill contains proposals to strengthen the administrative structure relating to oversight of national strategy for disaster management, which now resides in the National Disaster Committee, by replacing it with a National Disaster Risk Management Council.

Under the new law, a number of agencies will gain legal recognition with their roles and functions clearly established. The agencies falling under this category are the National Disaster Risk Management Council, the Parish Disaster Committees and the Zonal Committees.

disaster fund

The bill also provides for the establishment of a National Disaster Fund, comprising sums appropriated annually by Parliament - an amount equivalent to one per cent of the sum paid annually to each local authority for building fees - donations and grants from persons and organisations approved by the minister.

Authorised officers with primary responsibility for responding to disasters have also been identified in the legislation. They are members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica Defence Force, Jamaica Fire Brigade and public health officers.

The bill will repeal the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Act.