A Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Strategy and Programming Framework is to be developed for the BVI for the next 5 years.
The development of the five-year strategy (2019 to 2023) follows the recent completion of the programme’s audit and a review of the 2014 to 2018 BVI CDM Strategy that was undertaken by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Key stakeholders from both public and private sectors came together at a three-day consultation on August 22 to 24 to develop the strategy.
Acting Governor Mr. David Archer Jr. while addressing the stakeholders said he was pleased to receive the audit results and attributed the successes documented to the work that has been put in place over the last 40 years.
The Acting Governor while recalling the events that impacted the Territory during 2017 said, “In three months we were impacted by 2 flood events and 2 hurricanes that are termed as unprecedented events. I believe that our ability to make it through those months was based on the capacity we have among our people and the knowledge and awareness we have about the risks that we face. A lot of effort has gone into preparing the Territory for these types of disasters over the years.”
Mr. Archer urged participants to ensure that they remain on track as the Territory transitions from the reconstruction into the recovery planning phase.
He said, “While we focus on the reconstruction elements we are also getting our Territory back to normal operations and so our focus must also be on re-establishing the necessary programmes and structures to ensure that our preparedness and response levels are much more advanced than they were prior to 2017.”
The consultation facilitated the fourth (4th) iteration of the strategy and was supported by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) with support from the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reductions (UNISDR) through the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).
Deputy Executive Director of CDEMA, Ms. Elizabeth Riley played an important role in supporting the Virgin Islands team in identifying the successes and gaps in implementing the 2014 to 2018 strategy and in setting up the framework needed to guide the development of the new five-year strategy.
Ms. Riley stated, “The workshop benefited from the collective contributions from a broad diversity of comprehensive disaster management stakeholders in the Virgin Islands. This input has resulted in a futuristic, result oriented logical framework which is a critical step in supporting the Virgin Islands on its recovery path after Irma and complement the work of the Recovery and Development Agency.”
The participants expressed gratitude for the activity that was seen as an important step in developing a stronger CDM logical framework for the Territory.
Financial Analyst for the Government of the Virgin Islands Mr. Claude Kettle, said, “I found the workshop to be very informative and the topics generated some very interesting discussions. The facilitators showed they were very knowledgeable of the subject matter. It is my expectation that the Strategy will be supported and integrated into planning activities across all sectors.”
The workshop focused on the four main phases of the disaster management cycle namely preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. It was noted that the pre-impact and response phases were well advanced however the recovery phase needed to be guided by a comprehensive framework that includes the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) which was established to guide the reconstruction and rebuilding activities.
A holistic approach to recovery planning was also presented for consideration that would then take into consideration plans to safeguard the new assets being acquired; the development of an estate plan to support continuity of government operations, the strengthening of information technology, and ensuring that there is a robust data and documentation protection programme.
Professional advice from varied governmental bodies was shared throughout the context of the meeting which aided in the development of a strategic framework that best fits the structure of the BVI’s Comprehensive Disaster Management programme.
It is anticipated that with the BVI’s continued involvement with CDEMA and other regional and international disaster management entities, resourcing can be made available to facilitate the completion of the strategy and to support its full implementation over the next 5 years.