August 18, 20111256Views

Thursday, August 18 – Government representatives convened at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) to provide insight and feedback towards the establishment of a regional Disaster Risk Management Toolkit for the Caribbean and to establish the criteria for a draft Health and Safety School Policy for the Territory.

The workshop facilitators contracted to develop components towards the Toolkit and the Policy were Dr. Balfour Spence, a Professor at Brandon University in Canada and Mr. Joseph Smith Abbott of Sage Consultancy Limited.

Dr. Spence whose research expertise is in Disaster Risk Assessment, Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction Planning and Risk Communication was contracted by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), through CARICOM, to develop a Safety School Programme for CDEMA Participating States. At this workshop he presented the “Living School Project” where the focus is the enhancement of the Disaster Risk Management knowledge among school children ages 5 – 16.

Dr. Spence said, “Schools can be an important catalyst in the overall risk reduction agenda and what this project aims to do is to develop a toolkit to move the process of knowledge enhancement forward. The content of the toolkit is what I am here in the BVI to determine because each country has its own challenges, resource issues and significant needs and the toolkit for each country cannot be generic.”   

Dr. Spence met with key stakeholders and brainstormed on what should be included in the toolkit, as well as the type of learning methodology that should be employed in disseminating the information to students.

Sage Consultancy Limited was awarded the contract to develop a Model National School Health and Safety Policy, Assessment Criteria and accompanying Database for the Virgin Islands with documented steps for its possible adaption in other Caribbean Countries. This workshop created an opportunity to present the status of the entire framework to the stakeholders and to showcase the components of the assessment tool, while facilitating receiving insight on any necessary alterations or enhancements.

In his comments, Mr. Joseph Smith Abbott said, “The application of this assessment tool will be to certify schools over a long-term period to meet certain standards with regards to health and safety. The proposed Model National School Health and Safety Policy is expected to provide measures to be taken by every educational institution to undertake risk assessments and implement measures to ensure the safety of school buildings, their environment and the protection of children while at these institutions.”

The workshop was attended by representatives from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Virgin Island Fire and Rescue, BVI Health Services Authority, Ministry and Department of Education and Culture, Public Works Department, Environmental Health Division and the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

The workshop, hosted by the DDM, was sponsored by the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID) and CDEMA through a partnership with CARICOM and the Federative Republic of Brazil.

For more information, interested persons may call 284-468-4200, inquire via [email protected],  or visit our offices at #3 Wailing Road, MacNamara, Tortola.