Georgetown, Guyana – (December 7, 2018) Stakeholders in the Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo (Region Nine), are now better equipped to prepare for and respond to emergencies as the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) through funding from the European Union (EU), today, handed over the final Regional Risk Assessment Report and Regional Multi-Hazard Preparedness and Response Plan for Region Nine to the Regional Democratic Council (RDC).
The CDC also hosted an Orientation Session and Tabletop Exercise, which was aimed at familiarising regional stakeholders with the use of the two documents. The report and plan were developed over a three years period, which saw several rounds of consultations with regional stakeholders as well as focused group meetings with communities, all conducted by the CDC.
Speaking at a simple ceremony held at the Amerindian Hostel, Lethem, earlier today, Director General of the CDC (ag), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, said the Commission remains committed to building Guyana’s disaster risk management capabilities through stakeholder engagements. This is in an effort to build resilience at the regional level so as to reduce disaster risk through enhanced preparedness and response capabilities. He also said that the completion of the plan will give the Region the independence to manage its own disaster planning and resilience.
“The regional system is a proactive system, one where you will meet quarterly to plan for disasters and your response to emergencies. The plan contains a risk profile, which can be used as a planning document and help in decision-making. We want you to take ownership of this system. Key to this system we are implementing today is that all resources belongs to the region so in the event of any disaster or emergency, all resources will be maximised and centralised. The Committee must come together and work. We have to take disaster risk management very seriously; it should not be a talk shop, it should be about what is going to affect our health, our environment, our security, our generation, our future,” he said.
Along with the formalising of the disaster risk management system in place, Colonel Craig said too that the CDC will be going ahead with its plan to build a warehouse in Lethem to stockpile and store emergency items in the event of flooding or droughts or any other emergency in the region. Funds have been budgeted in the 2019 Budget and construction will begin in the first quarter of the new year, once approved by the National Assembly.
In reviewing the draft report, the participants were able to examine preliminary information regarding risks and hazard exposure within the region. The draft report demonstrated that the key drivers of risk within the region were found to be floods, drought, crop pest and diseases, among others. The activity saw the successful completion of a Tabletop Exercise, which tested the operability of the Regional Multi-Hazard Preparedness and Response Plan. During the exercise, participants examined various hazard impact scenarios and simulated emergency response actions, which would be carried out by responsible agencies.
Vice-Chairman of Region Nine, Mr. Karl Singh, said the significance of the Plan to the region cannot be understated. He noted that information contained in the Plan can and will be used by the region in its planning and budgeting.
“Part of this plan is going to assist us to strengthen our resilience and once we do this, then the region as a whole can save resources. We have a comprehensive document here. This will help us to plan more and put things in place to reduce the risks we face. For example, before we could have predicted the rainy season, today it is very difficult to say when it’s going to rain. To the Government who would have provided the funding for this Plan, I am grateful and I want to assure you that we are going to put it to good use,” the Vice-Chairman expressed.
Chairman of the National Toshaos’s Council (NTC), Mr. Nicholas Fredericks, who also participated in the activity, in an invited comment echoed the sentiments shared by the region’s Vice-Chairman. However, he noted that as a Toshao and head of the NTC, it is his intention to take the Plan to the various communities so that they too can become involved in the process of identifying risks and hazards and plan for them.
“The Disaster Risk management Plan is a very important document to have. Due to the global climate change, droughts and floods are affecting us so this plan is now going to put us in a position for us to plan to overcome disasters. Looking at it from the regional level, I think we can now take it back to the villages so that we can modify it from a village level to see how we overcome the challenges that will be coming our way. So the plan itself is like a foundation for the region, which can really assist the communities individually or from a sub district level on how we go about our activities and life,” he said.
To date, the Barima-Waini (Region One), Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region Two), Essequibo Islands-West Demerara (Region Three), Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five), East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six), Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven), Potaro Siparuni (Region Eight), Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) and Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region Ten) have completed their plans. The Commission is hoping to complete the Plans for Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) in the new year given the many complexities of this region.
The region’s Disaster Risk Management Committee is comprised of members from the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Guyana Fire Service (GFS), Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC), the RDC, Ministry of Public Health, Lethem Regional Hospital and Ministry of Public Infrastructure, among others.