UNICEF and CDEMA partner to protect Caribbean children in disasters and emergencies

Source(s): United Nations Children's Fund - The Americas and Caribbean Regional Office

Children, a priority in disaster emergency management and response.

UNICEF's Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding to co-operate on the development of more resilient communities, states and regional actors in preparation for disasters or emergencies in one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world.

The main purpose is to tackle the challenges facing vulnerable groups and affected populations, especially children, with a focus on the Education Sector, child and social protection systems and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), as a pathway to resilience building. UNICEF and CEDMA will prioritise national responses in case of emergencies, ensuring support for children, youth, women and vulnerable groups. In this process, innovative data collection instruments will be used to improve the tools implemented for risk analysis.

Climate Change Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction within regional and national education sector policies, plans and curricula, beginning at early childhood through secondary level will be applied through existing coordination platforms, strategies and programmes. This will be done with the aim of making schools safer and more resilient, providing psychosocial services and offering shock responsive social protection, as well as a robust Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) response. The organisations have been working together since 1997, when the first cooperation agreement was signed to protect the children of the region in case of emergencies. Based on post Irma and Maria hurricanes emergency response, in 2018 UNICEF Eastern Caribbean (ECA) signed a new Memorandum of Understanding for prepositioning supplies with CDEMA and a new Programme Cooperation Agreement in 2019. CDEMA has the mandate, given by CARICOM (Caribbean Community), to mobilise and coordinate disaster relief in emergency situations in the Caribbean, and to adopt mitigation policies and practices at National and Regional Levels.

CDEMA coordinates the emergency operations system, and responds to emergency situations and humanitarian crisis in 18 participating states of the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Republic of Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands.

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