Georgetown, Guyana – (March 17, 2019) The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and the University of Guyana (UG), this afternoon, signed an agreement that will see volunteers from the Volunteer Emergency Response Team (VERT) receiving an Introduction to Disaster Risk Management certificate from the University.
This signing, which was done by Director-General (Ag), CDC, Lieutenant Colonel, Kester Craig and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Engagement, UG, Professor Michael Scott, occurred at the conclusion of the launch of the VERT training programme for the first 41 volunteers held at Camp Madewini, Timehri which began on March 15. The CDC has started training a corps of volunteers in the area of disaster risk management to better augment its work should there be emergencies.
The three-day launch programme was done in collaboration with the UG, ExxonMobil and the Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Agency (CDEMA) with the aim of raising awareness of VERT programmes among volunteers and key partners, building capacity in core competency areas and building team spirit and morale among volunteers and key partners.
The Agreement will not only see volunteers receiving certificates at the completion of their training but will also allow for UG students to obtain internship opportunities at the CDC.
“This particular programme is more of an advanced programme where volunteers will be trained in detail disaster risk management and primarily to support the communities and the regions but more importantly to support the Caribbean, responding to hurricanes and tsunamis in islands that are usually affected every year,” Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig said.
He disclosed that among the volunteers are doctors, lawyers, engineers, media workers and persons in technical professions.
The VERT training programme will last for one year during which time the volunteers will be exposed to both theoretical and practical training in damage assessment, search and rescue and oil spill response, to name a few.
“I want to commend and congratulate the leadership of the CDC and all the invaluable partners for their engagement in this process,” Professor Scott said while noting that the UG has started a process of constructing a contemporary model for voluntary assessment performance in emergency and risk management.
Among the goals, Professor Scott said is to focus on team building, risk assessment as well as to have practical activities.
Meanwhile, ExxonMobil’s Senior Director, Public and Government Affairs Officer, Ms. Deedra Moe said the United States (U.S.) oil giant will contribute financially and technically to the programme.
“We’re happy to be a part of this Volunteer Emergency Response Team both financially contributing and also using resources from our expertise in oil spill response to have a comprehensive response effort,” she said.
Participant Ms. Maxy Ignatius from the Potaro- Siparuni Region (Region Eight) said it is her desire to become a peer educator in her Region.
“It was very beneficial and I learnt a lot, things that I didn’t know and I look forward to learning more new things and being able to execute them. When I return to my village, I plan to keep sessions with the villages nearby and going to secondary schools and giving information on the things that I learnt,” Ms. Ignatius said.
The goal of the VERT programme is to reduce Guyana’s disaster risk through voluntary services. The training will begin on March 30, 2019 and end on January 31, 2020. The CDC officially launched its Volunteer Corps in October 2012.