7th CDM Conference: Will re-branding disaster management make it sexier?

Montego Bay, Jamaica, December 4th, 2012, (Panos) - Post 2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and CDM beyond 2012 consultation.

Ricardo Mena, Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)  Regional Office for the Americas, states that key imperatives  for disaster management planners in the Caribbean region looking towards a post 2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) lie in identifying and addressing existing gaps.
According to Mena, the repackaging of disaster mitigation to appeal more effectively  to national governments is also on the agenda.  ”Many people are suggesting that we should re-brand DRR  in a positive manner, so instead of talking about disaster, we talk about resilience building.”

Speaking during a  consultation  with stakeholders pursued on day one of  Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)’s  7th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management  on December 3 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Mena said that issues to be tackled included building awareness on vulnerability and the need to improve science-based knowledge so that it can be transplanted to policy making.

Important as well, he said, was the need to make the investment case for disaster risk reduction  to convince governments of the need for such programmes.
The CDEMA conference is on at the Hilton Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica from December 3rd – 7th, 2012,  convened under the theme: “CDM: Building Disaster Resilience – A Shared Responsibility.”

Paul Saunders consultant with DOH Caribbean Limited who spoke during the same forum said that among several gaps and  opportunities facing the Caribbean region were the absence of an over-arching policy linking Disaster Risk Management to development.

Most countries we are not implementing  solid agreements and policies at the government level. Also implementation  where it exists is being pursued in a fragmented manner by ministries and departments, Saunders said.

Within the region, lack of funding also remains a sore point which hopefully can be address in a more systematic way post 2015.

“The major cry which still comes out again and again is lack of funding for DRRr spread across several areas with  limited national budgets for national programmes. Only Trinidad received an increase in budget this year. We speak of implementation of DRR,  but we need to put our money where our mouth is. CDEMA has made progress but it also has challenges in meeting its obligations,” he noted.

Caribbean governments, he stated “are also  not planning and putting aside funds for a disaster response budget. “We are dipping into development budget when disasters happen. The government s needs to put aside funds. We cannot continue as a region to always depend on donors to deliver us.”

Another major gap, Saunders noted, was the absence of defined levels of disaster  which are standard cross mitigation programmes. It cannot be our programes are going along and we do not have some kind of bechmark to measure against for  mitigation programmes regionally. “

Saunders noted that there is also limited discourse on the issue of rural resilience. As a result of rural-urban drift, people continue to live in sections of urban areas which are very vulnerable. What can be done in rural communities to keep persons there and so lessen the impacts on urban areas?

“ We do  have to step outside of  the box and not just look at disaster management issues,  but also at what it is about rural society and economy which is pushing people into urban areas. A disaster plan does not keep them in the community, but one on livelihoods might.”

The planner also cited a lack of integration of science and technology into the development process. We do our risk maps. We have all the satellite imagery, but how  many development  plans are based on hard scientific information?

“We need to move more to hard facts. Over the last 20 years surge maps have been developed which are  not being used in the actual development and planning process.”

Setting out issues to be discussed in workgroups, Saunders also added that DRR  is generally not integrated into national development programmes. “National  policies actually speak to disaster risk management from a glancing reference. We need to see it in the national budget.”

How many  countries have a national relief fund, a national disaster fund with moneys set aside?. When we speak to the ministries they do not even have a national disaster coordinator. “

In terms of awareness building, Saunders said that in the development of a post 2015 framework,  it must also be noted that, currently, dissemination information to  the public and in schools is starting too late.

“In Japan this is begun from  very young age. By the time we start to educate our children in the high schools it’s more difficult. We need to push prepared ness information at an early age.”

According to Ricardo Mena, other matters under discussion include whether new instruments and agreements crafted should be binding on regional governments or not; and how to find better ways to report and measure the DRR process itself.

“We do have indicators but these are more qualitative and are not easy to measure. We have to continue  analyzing ways in which we can better report progress,” he noted.
“There is  also the  need to work on substantive issues such as poverty , water shortage and  food security which have not  really been looked at. Also to be tackled are urban risks including earthquakes, land use planning and issues relating to administration of space at the municipal level.”

Mena suggested that a critical  assessment of  regional success lessons learnt in facilitation of DRR into development planning should be reviwed, noting that in the Caribbean one good examples is the integration of DRR  in tourism sector planning.


Source: Avia Ustonny, Panos
Blog: http://cdmconference.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/will-re-branding-disaster-management-make-it-sexier/ 

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