Bahamas Government to co-finance disaster risk preventative program

NASSAU, The Bahamas—National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Interim Director Mr. Carl Smith said Wednesday (September 27, 2006) that the Government will co-finance a $7 million dollar Natural Risk Preventative Management Program (NRPMP) in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to help improve the disaster resilience of The Bahamas.

The program, to be executed by NEMA, is scheduled to commence in February, 2007. Officials from the IDB are expected to arrive in New Providence next week to finalize the design of, and costing for, the Project.

Mr. Smith, who also serves as Undersecretary in the Cabinet Office, said disaster risk management and Government officials anticipate having the project approved by the IDB “sometime late this year in order to commence implementation in February of next y

Addressing business leaders at the Bahamas Financial Services Board’s (BFSB) Business Continuity Planning Forum, Mr. Smith said the Government has articulated its commitment to a proactive, comprehensive and sustained approach to disaster risk management.

“That strategy,” he said, “focuses on reducing risks and vulnerability, the loss of life, economic disruption and damage to the environment and property.”

Mr. Smith said the “overarching objective” of the NRPMP will be the integration of a Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) strategy into sustainable development planning so as to reduce vulnerability, risks and loss from natural and man-made hazards.

He said the project will address five areas, including the legal and institutional framework which will include building the institutional capacity of principal agencies participating in the CDM and improving the legal framework to support NEMA, thereby giving “teeth” to the agency.

Mr. Smith said the project will also address emergency communications, shelter policy, community preparedness and country risk profile.

“The proposed outcome of the project is to ensure sound disaster risk management throughout The Bahamas and there are two primary objectives we believe will occur as a result of that outcome,” Mr. Smith said. “
They are a well-functioning system to provide appropriate planning for preparedness, response and recovery and the development of a risk profile that will serve to identify and to guide reduction and transfer of risk,” he added.

Mr. Smith said the CDM strategy has four Intermediate Results built into its system. The first calls for hazard vulnerability assessments and risk reduction strategies to be incorporated into investment decisions.

“We need to integrate risk reduction strategies across the sector in all of our development planning,” Mr. Smith said. “We need to ensure that we have assessments done of the hazards, vulnerabilities and risks that are associated with the development and what we can do to minimize those risks.”

He said second Intermediate Result will result in the strengthening of the institutional and human resource capacity to implement the CDM. He said this strengthening will take place “across the board” in both the public and private sectors.

Mr. Smith said the third Intermediate Result will result in increased citizen awareness and action while fourth Intermediate Result will speak to preparedness, response and rehabilitation capacity.

Mr. Smith said the passage of the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act in March, 2006, which created NEMA as a Department of Government with responsibility for driving disaster risk management in the country, was a positive step towards a comprehensive disaster management strategy.

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