The British Virgin Islands has become the first territory outside of the United States and Canada to be granted international accreditation for its disaster management programme.
The accreditation is awarded by the Emergency Management Accreditation Programme (EMAP), which is the only accreditation process that exists for emergency management programmes worldwide.
Following an initial assessment in December last year, the BVI achieved the requirements for the 64 EMAP standards and subsequently presented its case for accreditation to the Commission. In a letter dated April 27 to His Excellency, Governor John S. Duncan, the EMAP Commission indicated that the BVI has been granted full accreditation.
Chair of the EMAP Commission, Barb Graff stated, “The British Virgin Islands is commended for the work accomplished to achieve compliance with industry standards. We applaud the British Virgin Islands’ leadership and congratulate you and your commitment to achieve full accreditation. More importantly we recognise the dedication to the safety and security of the residents that it represents.”
In a release announcing the award of accreditation to the BVI and 12 other U.S. based disaster management programmes, the Commission stated, “EMAP revolutionises emergency management programmes and recognises the ability of emergency management programmes to bring together personnel, resources and communications from a variety of agencies and organisations in preparation for and in response to an emergency, in addition to obtaining the ability to measure those capabilities.”
The ability to gain international accreditation is a remarkable achievement for the Government of the Virgin Islands and for the work it undertakes to ensure that the BVI becomes an increasingly resilient society.
Director of the DDM, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo explained the significance of this accreditation for the DDM and the wider Territory saying, “This accreditation allows the BVI to position itself in a true leadership role in disaster management in the region and reflects the quality of the programme and the manner in which it is implemented, factors that allow it to be recognised among international programmes. It speaks to a sense of public trust, as well as the professional qualification of staff within the public service and the quality of work produced by them.”
This new accreditation comes less than a year after the BVI recorded another significant milestone, Tsunami Ready recognition, which was awarded by the National Weather Service in May 2014, through the Caribbean Tsunami Warning Center.
EMAP uses the accreditation to prove the capabilities of national programmes in 16 areas and documents compliance through a peer review process undertaken by trained assessors. Accreditation is valid for five years and disaster management programmes must maintain compliance with EMAP standards and are reassessed to maintain their accredited status.
The accreditation programme supports the vision of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and Programming Framework which is designed to create A Smart Footprint, for achieving resiliency and safeguarding lives, livelihoods and the sustainable development of the Virgin Islands through a combination of safe, healthy and green initiatives.
The process towards accreditation was financially supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The BVI is now recognised among several states and counties in the United States, as well as the Centre for Disease Control, Virginia Tech University and Idaho State University for proving compliance to standards of excellence and the commitment to support safety among communities.