May 9, 2011962Views

Monday, May 9th 2011 Financial Secretary Mr. Neil Smith and Director of Disaster Management Sharleen DaBreo returned from Aruba last week after attending the third meeting of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) Regional Risk reduction Initiative (R3i) Project Board meeting.

Mr. Smith, who is also the Deputy Regional Authorising Officer for the 10th EDF for the Caribbean is also serving as Chairman of the Board.  The OCTs comprise English and Dutch overseas countries and territories which are all highly vulnerable to various natural hazards and effects of climate change.  The R3i Project is designed to address the risks associated with these hazards and events by providing a network of regional infrastructure, programmes, policies and protocols to strengthen capacity to predict and prepare for natural hazards.  The project is funded by the European Union in the amount of 4.9 million Euros and is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

 The Board provides oversight and general guidance of the project.  In his remarks to the members of the Board Mr. Smith said, “The board is responsible for ensuring the most efficient use of resources towards the full implementation of the project and to ensure that resources are applied at the country or territorial level to address gaps in Risk Reduction programmes.  The aim is to implement the various activities to allow for identification of vulnerabilities that exist and implementation of measures to address the risk posed by the various hazards that affect these small islands.”  He expressed his desire to ensure best use of critical resources in the execution of the project activities, to capture best practices and to ensure that every effort is made to implement activities in a manner in which they can be sustained.”

 Mr. Smith was joined by Stein Hansen, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Mr. Stein Hansen, UNDP Programme Manager for Disaster Risk Reduction Mr. Ian King, Representatives from the EU, DFID and CMO, Project Coordinator Mr. Alexandre Vacher, Project Officer Mrs. Danielle Evanson and other members of the Board which included Director Disaster Management Sharleen DaBreo and representatives from St. Maarten, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Aruba.

The Board Meeting was followed by the Launch of the Disaster Risk Reduction activities planned for Aruba and some of the other OCTs which includes the application of Geographic Information Systems to develop vulnerability assessments and hazards maps as well as training in the use of the Emergency Managers Weather Information network (EMWIN).  Activities in the Virgin Islands are expected to launch today with the collection of data and information to allow for the development of tsunami and storm surge models for the Territory.  These works are being conducted by the joint venture of Smith Warner International Limited, Deltares of the Netherlands and the US Geological Survey (USGS).