Earth Today | Disaster-ready – Westmoreland residents get kits, training for resilience | News

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SEVENTEEN RESIDENTS of Savanna-la-Mar and surrounding areas now have the benefit of equipment and kits to go along with their recent training in disaster preparedness to boost climate resilience at the level of communities.

The group were participants in the Family Disaster Plan and Radio Quiz competitions staged by the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) under the Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction Technology and Strategies to Improve Community Resilience (CARTS) Project.

The residents were presented with kits which contain essential supplies and appliances useful in natural disasters or emergencies, such as battery-powdered radios, lanterns, cell phones, hand sanitisers, power banks, face masks, disinfectant sprays, mosquito zappers, trash bags, tarpaulin, heavy-duty raincoats, among other items.

The CARTS Project is funded by the Caribbean Development Bank’s Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF), which is based in Barbados.

Financing for CDDRF is provided by the government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, and by the European Union. CDRRF finances subprojects that seek to help communities in the Caribbean build their resilience to natural disasters and adapt to climate change.

“Communities in Savanna-la-Mar and surrounding communities all participated and four community categories were established from which first-, second- and third-place prize winners were selected. The community members all turned in to their community radio station, VIBES FM, and they all participated in the radio quiz,” said Shadae Allen, project manager, Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, at the ceremony to hand over the kits in Savanna-la-Mar last month.

Improve resilience

Allen noted that the CARTS Project was designed to improve resilience in towns that are located on the coast, which make them more vulnerable to certain climate impacts such as storm surge, flooding, sea level rise, and so on.

She stated that resilience has been achieved through a number of training and project initiatives.

“As a result of those initiatives or interventions, 36 persons were trained in CPR first aid, 40 persons were trained in shelter management and initial damage assessment, 35 individuals trained in search and rescue, 25 business operators trained to prepare business contingency plans, 31 fisherfolk trained in safety-at-sea practices, a climate risk note was prepared and will be distributed, and a town-wide disaster drill was conducted,” said Allen.

The presentation was one of three activities that the CARTS Project hosted in one week. The other activities included the handing over of an oyster farm to a newly formed group of oyster farmers, as well as the handover of three weather stations located in and around Savanna-la-Mar to the Meteorological Office of Jamaica.

“Additionally, we have purchased and installed three weather stations and we are in the process of designing and installing a flood early-warning system and preparing a flood master plan, all of which will help in the aim of mitigating against the impact of flooding. It will definitely inform future development patterns in the urban area of Savanna-la-Mar.”

Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Councillor Bertel Moore heaped praises on the participants in the resilience training, citing that the lessons from the training will become useful in assisting community members in time of disasters.

“I feel good, because these are the young people who, when disaster is about to take place, that I know will know exactly what to do. We must look at the situation now, where climate change is playing a big role in our lives. If you look at Jamaica, how the type of weather that we have and the time of the year that we have these bad weather, it can tell you that it is a serious thing,” Moore argued.

“In these days, we see some months that, usually, they are not the rainy months, but you have seen a pattern of change, and this is why we realise that climate change is something that we should not take lightly,” he added.

Indi Mclymont-Lafayette, knowledge management and public education consultant, Community Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund, Caribbean Development Bank, explained that CARTS was designed to improve resilience in the town of Savanna-la-Mar.

“In an effort to address the challenges facing the town of Savanna-la-Mar, WMC, in collaboration with the partners, designed a project that seeks to improve resilience to climate change and enhance disaster risk-reduction capacities within the Savanna-la-Mar business district and three targeted communities, namely Llandilo Phase I, Cooke Street/Market Oval, and Russia,” she said.

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