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Source: Jamaica Information Service

Kingston, Jamaica , December 9, 2009 (GIS) - The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mrs. Faith Innerarity, has said that the Ministry has been playing a key role in the strengthening of Jamaica's disaster management system.

Addressing the fourth Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management in Montego Bay, Mrs. Innerarity said the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture - which also has responsibility for Community Development and Women's Affairs - had identified disaster management as a critical area for communities, especially the youth in communities.

Mrs. Innerarity said:
"Disaster mitigation, preparedness and emergency management, within the broader context of sustainable development, has been identified by the Ministry as one of the areas in which young people could play a lead role. This is being spearheaded by Senator Warren Newby (himself a young man), Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture."

The Permanent Secretary said Jamaican youth had "demonstrated exceptional leadership skills [and] a strong spirit of volunteerism providing service at the community level" and were therefore suited to play a leading role in Comprehensive Disaster Management.

Mrs. Innerarity pointed out that in Cuba, young people had been given a "very critical role...in the management of natural disasters" and that Cuba's disaster management system was "recognised as being very effective".

There are 800 registered community-based youth groups in the Jamaica, and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has been working with them to ensure that they will be effective responders and managers when an event occurs.

Mrs. Innerarity said:
"The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, through its agencies the Social Development Commission and the National Centre for Youth Development, is seeking to strengthen the organisational capacity of these groups through the reform of the National Youth Council, and streamlining of the activities of community based youth organisations."

"Community mobilisation at the local level is indispensable when an event occurs."

Mrs. Innerarity also listed the work of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in the area of community disaster planning in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management; training of emergency response teams; formation of zonal communities completing disaster plans; and launching projects in designated communities.

The 4th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management is being held in Montego Bay from December 7 to 11 under the theme 'Strengthening CDM (Comprehensive Disaster Management) through Youth and Community Empowerment'.



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