The Caribbean delegates who recently completed training in leadership and strategic planning for disaster risk reduction at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College have been challenged to put into practice what they learned and to serve as leaders in their respective communities.
Speaking on Friday 27 May at a closing ceremony held for the second group of participants in the training, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Jeremy Collymore said they will all be expected to demonstrate the benefits of this exposure.
“The tools and skills you have been exposed to during this training will become very necessary as you seek to incorporate them in your work,” said Mr. Collymore. “Disaster risk reduction policy and programming in this vulnerable region cannot be based on business as usual.”
Mr. Collymore noted that the task ahead requires more investment in visioning, empowering, influencing and managing change. He said it requires some radical alteration to the assumptions held about the role and function of national disaster offices and the skills and attributes of those who head these organisations. For CDEMA, he added, the course is an important step in pro-active capacity development.
Keynote speaker, Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s Office David Archer, used the letters in “leader” as an acronym to give his charge to the delegates about their responsibility to the various communities they will now be returning to serve. L, he said, represents longevity; E, enthusiasm; A, attitude; D, determination; E, empathy; and R, results.
Mr. Archer said the work of disaster managers is a field in which only leadership qualities will ensure success. “Being a leader is neither a passing fad nor a temporary inclination,” he said. “Rather, it is about courage and conviction that endures through all disasters, be they geological, chemical or anthropological.”
President of HLSCC Dr. Karl Dawson called on the participants to use the knowledge gained to help in the process of training and strengthening the members of their communities, thereby, enhancing the resolve and know-how in the overall aim of disaster risk reduction.
Director of the Department of Disaster Management Sharleen DaBreo, in her expression of appreciation to all the parties involved in supporting the initiative, described the training as highly successful, both in terms of the number of persons in the course and the subject areas covered.
Meanwhile, Deputy Governor V. Inez Archibald was on hand to present certificates of completion to the delegates, including, in some cases, special awards for long service in the area of disaster management. Also attending the closing ceremony was Ambassador Joshua Sears of The Bahamas, who was in the territory for another disaster management related meeting.
In all, some 55 senior officers in disaster management at the national level in the 18 CDEMA member countries completed the training in two cohorts during the month of May, including eight local participants. Topics covered included leadership development, project risk management, operations management, performance management and strategic planning.
The initiative was made possible with funding from the Australian Agency for International Development through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Dean of Workforce Training at HLSCC Judith Vanterpool developed the course content.
Over the years, HLSCC has enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the Department of Disaster Management and CDEMA, one which has allowed the institution to develop and offer formal courses in Disaster Management at the Associate Degree and Certificate Levels, training in safer building, and online training applications in Disaster Management.