July 23, 20141018Views
Representatives from the three schools in Sea Cow’s Bay along with members of the community met with staff of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) last evening to learn more about the Smart School Project that will be undertaken over the next six months.
The meeting was held at the Valerie O. Thomas Community Centre where two presentations were delivered by the DDM team. Technical Planning Officer, Mr. Christopher Williams spoke about the vulnerabilities posed by natural hazards to the Sea Cow’s Bay community; identifying floods, storm surges, landslides, tsunamis and liquefaction as the hazards that pose a threat to Sea Cow’s Bay.
Information and Education Manager, Ms. Philomena Robertson delivered on the overall scope of the project, the various activities planned and the benefits to the three schools and the wider community.
Speaking on the various outputs of the project, Ms. Robertson explained, “The SMART School initiative seeks to create a safer, healthier and greener learning environment and educational experience for school administrators, teachers and students.”  She further stated that the aim is to “motivate schools to have facilities that are well prepared to deal with the impact of any hazard.  There will always be some acceptable level of risk but our emphasis is on fostering a culture that promotes environmental sensitivity, energy and water efficiency, health and welfare of students.”
Ms. Robertson, who is spearheading the project on behalf of the DDM, indicated that the project will be the start of a considerable amount of work planned for Sea Cow’s Bay to enhance its resilience.  
“We are starting with the schools because they can be the driving force behind the changes and improved resilience we envision for the community. We must encourage students to play a more significant role in disaster management and climate change activities through greater awareness of the environment and various climate change adaptation strategies if we are to attain the desired state of community resilience,” she said.
The Smart School Pilot Project in Sea Cow’s Bay is being fully supported by the Department and Ministry of Education and Culture and will include a public awareness and education campaign designed specifically for the community, a recycling programme in the schools, improvements in water quality and conservation measures, installation of energy efficient light fixtures, improved indoor air quality, proper management of chemicals and enhancements in safety and compliance.
The wider community will benefit from Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Training, scheduled for September 22 – 26, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. daily and a community health fair which will take place in October.
The presenters highlighted that the Sea Cow’s Bay community is well known for its level of community involvement, which is evident from as far back as 1972 with the formation of the Sea Cow’s Bay Community Club.  In 1997, they established the Sea Cow’s Bay Disaster Preparedness Committee; in 2002 the 3rd District Youth Group and the 3rd District Progressive Group, in 2005, the Sea Cow’s Bay Harbour Owners Group as well as the Sea Cow’s Bay Naming Committee and the Nibbs Estate Committee.
The funding from the Smart School Pilot Project in Sea Cow’s Bay is being provided by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), as part of the Mainstreaming Climate Change in Disaster Management in the Caribbean Phase II (CCDM-II) Project. That project seeks to build resilience in CDEMA Participating States to the effects of climate change and natural disasters through practical “climate smart” planning and adaptation at the national and community levels. 
Photo Captions:
  • Photo 1 – Cross section of persons attending the DDM community meeting in Sea Cow’s Bay. Photo Credit: Department of Disaster Management.  
  • Photo 2 – DDM’s Information and Education Manager, Philomena Robertson presents outline of SMART School Pilot Project to Sea Cow’s Bay residents at community meeting. Photo Credit: Department of Disaster Management