Representatives from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) and the BVI Red Cross (BVIRC) have shared plans for reducing the Territory’s disaster risk in 2021.
The representatives also discussed opportunities for strengthening the overall capacity of the Virgin Islands to handle emergencies in the current climate during a meeting held on Tuesday, January 19.
Representing the BVI Red Cross was Director Ms. Stacy Lloyd and Disaster Management Officer Ms. Kristi Creque; while the DDM was represented by Acting Director Mr. Jasen Penn, and Community Relations Officer Mr. Cecil Jeffrey. The group laid out goals for the year and examined some of the challenges expected from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the anticipated Atlantic Hurricane Season, and other hazards.
Mr. Penn said that ensuring the Virgin Islands is adequately prepared for and can respond to disasters and emergencies requires that the entire Territory work together.
“There is a significant amount of work to be done throughout our communities, and the DDM will continue to partner with NGO’s like the BVIRC to advance the territorial disaster management programme,” he said.
The Acting Director added that the group had identified several key areas of focus coming out of yesterday’s meeting.
“The team agrees that we should advance training in a number of key areas: increasing warehousing capacity, logistics management, engaging in more detailed community risk assessments, and identifying sustainable projects that can help to build resistance within physical structures and improve warning and notification systems,” he explained.
Ms. Lloyd highlighted that such partnerships are more important than ever as the Territory and the wider world face increasing risks brought on by global challenges.
She said, “It is important that these two organisations continue to foster a close working partnership in an effort to ensure that the Virgin Islands is well equipped to handle crises and disasters due to the increasing issues related to climate change and other emergency events such as the ongoing pandemic.”
The representatives agreed that a key lesson learned from the Territory’s past disaster events was the importance of community-focused initiatives that help integrate prevention, relief assistance, and rehabilitation into long-term risk reduction programmes. The role of the BVI Red Cross in the BVI is to support these areas and do so through structured Government organisations. The DDM, as the central coordinating agency for disaster management, has a long-standing relationship with the Red Cross, and the partnership between the two agencies was formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2014.