December 6, 20111136Views

Thursday, December 8 – Now in its sixth year, the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Conference continues to be the region’s premier event on Disaster Risk Management which brings together the largest gathering of professionals in the fields of Disaster Management and related disciplines. 

Held this year in Port of Spain, Trinidad, it is being described as “an excellent opportunity to improve disaster risk management awareness and exchange information on good practices, while building stronger professional networks.”  This year’s theme is “CDM: Reflection, Introspection, Moving Forward” and again has strong representation from the Virgin Islands.

The Department of Disaster Management’s (DDM) Deputy Director, Mr. Zebalon McLean, and its Public Information and Education Manager, Mr. Linton Leonard, are currently attending the conference. Mr. McLean will present the paper “National Disaster Offices: Building The Capacity For Success”, on behalf of the Director, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo, during a session titled Competencies and Skills for Effective Implementation of Comprehensive Disaster Management. Health Disaster Coordinator, Mrs. Dawn Leonard will chair the seventh meeting of the Caribbean Health Disaster Risk Reduction Committee. Chief Planner for the Town and Country Planning Department, Mrs. Marva Titley-Smith, will chair a one-day session on Innovation in Development Practice. 

A consistent highlight of the CDM Conferences is a Youth Session which involves young people and educators from across the region, H. Lavity Stoutt Community College student, Ms. Aliyah Leonard will compete with the Antigua Sub-regional Debating Team, debating the topic ‘Disaster Mitigation is an expense we cannot afford in the midst of our declining economies.’  Deputy Director McLean will serve as one of the judges.

As Interim Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr. Elton Georges OBE, CMG, will deliver the closing remarks. Before heading off to the conference, Mr. Georges told the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) he will use this opportunity to spotlight the Virgin Islands’ regional contribution in the field of Disaster Management, as well as the tremendous benefits that regional and international community support have brought to the VI. 

“My remarks will aim mostly at celebrating the incredible progress that we in the Caribbean have made over the past two to three decades in understanding and coping with hazardous events, progress that has come through sharing and determined cooperation as well as through learning from bitter experiences”, he said. 

 Mr. Georges, a former Deputy Governor for the Virgin Islands, was responsible for disaster management in the Territory for over 20 years.

An added feature will be the recognition of the CDERA/CDEMA mechanism’s 20th anniversary with the distribution of awards to persons in the field of Disaster Management. The meetings, which will culminate on December 9, are expected to conclude with the identification of the achievements, successes and gaps within the CDEMA system, good practices, lessons learnt, and strategic opportunities and approaches for Comprehensive Disaster Management beyond 2012. 

The CDM Conference, which began in 2006, is a regional event and is structured to promote good practice, share ongoing research, chart the way forward for the advancement of CDM in the Caribbean and to provide a unique opportunity for facilitating networking among disaster management practitioner.