Disaster Risk Reduction Should Start at the Community Level

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) along with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and its partners hosted the workshop Strengthening Partnerships for Disaster Risk Reductions on Friday, 9th of October at the Hilton Kingston Hotel. 

The workshop, conducted under the initiative of the ODPEM/CIDA Building Disaster Resilient Communities Project, engaged the Department of Local Government which included Mayors, Secretary Managers and Parish Disaster Coordinators in a discussion on their roles and responsibilities in Jamaica’s disaster management framework. 

The Honorable Robert Montague, Minister of State, Department of Local Government emphasized that the education of Disaster Risk Reduction should start at the community level, specifically in preparations of shelters. He stated, “We must start at the bottom (community level) and work our way to the top.” The Minister also urged the respective Mayors to map their parishes and develop a Shelter Committee to manage, secure, and take care of the assigned shelters before, during and after a disaster. 

Other issues of concerns raised in the workshop were the need to improve Disaster Management by encouraging communities to move away from the approach of ‘response’ and start at ‘prevention’. Director General of ODPEM, Mr. Ronald Jackson highlighted the need for communities to take a more holistic approach to reduce the risk of a disaster. This he said can be done by focusing more on risk mitigation as a priority in order to reduce the incidence of response. Also highlighted was the need for persons with the right expertise and skill to accurately asses how a community can reduce the risk of a disaster.

The aim of the workshop is to help improve partnerships for disaster management and emergency response at the community, parish and the national level, which will ultimately improve the country’s disaster mitigation and response capacity. 

Contact:    Kimberley Weller, Information Officer,