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The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is the agency of the Government of Jamaica responsible for:

  • Taking actions to reduce the impact of disasters and emergencies on the Jamaican population and economy, as the country is known to be vulnerable to various hazards such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods among others.
  • Coordinating emergency and relief operations in major events.

ODPEM operates under the Ministry of Water and Housing. ODPEM was established in July 1980, as a direct consequence of the floods of June 1979, when Western Jamaica was severely affected by flooding. It was set up on the advice of the United Nations Disaster Relief Office (UNDRO), the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the US State Department, and the League of Red Cross Societies (LRCS) following their joint review of Jamaica's vulnerability and the status of national emergency management capacity.

These agencies advised that the emergency needs of Jamaica required the full-time work of a core of technically competent professionals to:

  • Create and maintain contingency plans at national, parish and ocal levels.
  • Promote public awareness of disaster threats and appropriate response monitor the effectiveness of the hazards mitigation strategies, which are an integral part of the physical and economic planning system,
  • Establish an emergency operating system, supported by appropriate communication facilities,
  • Coordinate emergency response when major events occur.