The Comprehensive Disaster Management Coordination and Harmonization Council (CHC) held their inaugural meeting last December in St. Michael, Barbados. The meeting was chaired by CDERA’s Coordinator, Mr. Jeremy Collymore, and attracted 16 agencies and institutions (including donors and National Disaster Organizations), as well as representatives from the private sector. The meeting gave Council members the opportunity to discuss the mechanisms they will use to increase Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) awareness and implementation in the Caribbean, and to explore opportunities for synergies between development partners, regional governments, the private sector, civil society and other CDM stakeholders.
As its name implies, CDM includes attention to all phases of the disaster management cycle - prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and response, recovery and rehabilitation. With its emphasis on risk reduction, CDM reflects the global trend in disaster management, and was adopted by Caribbean governments in 2001. Mr. Collymore noted that the CDM implementation in the region has changed from a CDERA process to a stakeholder-driven one, and stated that this transfer will significantly change the way CDM is managed in the region. He pointed out that the success of this transfer required stakeholder harmonization, a difficult task. Mr. Collymore therefore thanked the Council’s member organizations for their commitment to the harmonization and coordination process. He also highlighted that, by meeting to discuss its governance mechanism, the Council was taking the first practical steps towards operationalizing CDM across sectors and stakeholders.
Members of the Council reiterated their commitment to the harmonization process, and outlined the CDM-related activities they will fund, or be directly involved in, over the next few years. These included enhancing the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in regional disaster management, training and technical assistance programmes, combating the effects of climate change, and updating the Caribbean’s decades-old wind maps. While Council members acknowledged the challenges of coordinating and harmonizing CDM across the Caribbean (e.g., logistical problems, and the sourcing of funds to sustain the process), they were also optimistic about regional efforts to overcome these obstacles.
The scope and objectives of the CHC’s work were outlined by Ms. Elizabeth Riley, CDERA’s Programme Manager, in a presentation on the Council’s Draft Terms of Reference (TOR). She explained that the CHC will provide the overall management and technical guidance needed to ensure that CDM implementation activities within and between countries, and across different sectors and disciplines, are coordinated and harmonized. Ms. Riley’s presentation also described the CHC’s supporting mechanism, which includes six Sub-Committees, each coordinating CDM-related activities in the Agriculture, Civil Society, Education, Finance, Health, or Tourism sectors. Ms. Riley explained that each Sub-Committee will report to a Sector Lead, which will be a CHC member organization with considerable experience in the given sector. The six Sector Leads will then report to the Council as a whole. It was disclosed that the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the University of the West Indies, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Pan-American Health Organization were the Sector Leads for the tourism, education, agriculture and health sectors, respectively. The Sector Leads for Civil Society and Finance were being confirmed. CDERA will also play a supporting role in each Sub-Committee via an agency employee, who will be called the Internal Lead for the particular sector. Mr. Clyde Sobers, CDERA’s Finance Manager and Administrator, revealed that the six Internal Sector Leads have been identified.
When the CHC members discussed the functions listed for them in the TOR, the responsibility of the Sector Leads to report the progress of their respective Sub-Committees to the Council was moved higher up on their list of duties. These progress reports will be in keeping with the new, results-based approach to CDM implementation. They will also ensure that each Sub-Committee is accountable to, and open to guidance from, the others. The Council members also committed themselves to incorporating the cross-cutting themes of gender equality, climate change and ICTs into all sectors.
Ms. Saudia Rahat, a Programme Officer at CDERA, gave a presentation on the CDM Database. This Database provides an overview of ongoing disaster management initiatives in the region, and will therefore be a major information source for CHC members. Ms. Rahat noted that this online database was developed in 2006 after its paper-format predecessor, the CDM Matrix, was judged too static. She explained that the Database needs restructuring to reflect the new, results-based approach to CDM (and its accompanying list of priority outputs and outcomes). Ms. Rahat stressed that the restructured Database (which should be complete by June, 2008) will support mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the CDM implementation progress without misplacing any of the information stored in the current format. The Council agreed to establish a select committee to provide technical guidance for the management of the CDM Database.
The CHC agreed to serve at least from 2007 to 2012 (the period of CDM programme implementation), and to meet at least twice per year, and to report to CDERA annually. Several Council members suggested that some meetings be conducted virtually (which, they noted, would be in keeping with the goal of using more ICTs in CDM implementation). The CHC also agreed to share updates on its work at broad, CDM-based consultations, and to get feedback from other stakeholders in the CDM implementation process.
For additional information please contact:
Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency
Bldg #1 Manor Lodge Complex
Lodge Hill, St. Michael
Tel.No: (246)-425-0386; Fax No: (246)-425-8854
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