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Today marks International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) and is observed worldwide to celebrate how people and communities are reducing their risk to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of disaster risk reduction.
This year’s observance is dedicated to the power of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and is being celebrated under the theme “Knowledge for Life”.
Minister for Education and Culture Honourable Myron Walwyn, while expressing his support in recognition of the day and the chosen theme, “Knowledge for Life”, stated that individuals contextualize disasters and their impacts through their own experience and understanding. He said that it is important that we recognise that local knowledge is as important as scientific knowledge.
Minister Walwyn stated that his Ministry understands the need for disaster management to be fully integrated into the education sector and noted that this is being done through the SMART Schools programme that supports safe, healthy and green schools throughout the Territory.
Honourable Walwyn added, “As policymakers we understand the social implications of disasters on critical sectors such as education. We must ensure that our children and community members know about the science of the hazards but we must also capture the living knowledge that is among the elderly in our communities so that their experiences can be shared with generations to come.”
The vision for the Virgin Islands Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy for the period 2014-2018 calls for the establishment of a “SMART footprint” and working towards resiliency to safeguard life, livelihoods and the sustainable development of the Virgin Islands. This vision is in keeping with the message promoted by the UN Secretary General which explains that resilience is the sum of many acts of disaster risk reduction at the local level.
In his remarks published today United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said, “On this International Day, let us recognize the efforts of communities, large and small, who put their wisdom to use in reducing disaster risk and sharing their precious ’knowledge for life’. It's also a day to encourage every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.”
In recognition of IDDR, the Department of Disaster Management has produced a promotional video which is available on their social media sites as well as the Department’s website, www.bviddm.org. The video will also air on local television stations during the month of October along with photographs with captions that illustrate resiliency efforts taking place in communities throughout the Territory.
The International Day for Disaster Reduction started in 1989, with the approval of the United Nations General Assembly, to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. The day is observed on October 13 annually following the change from the second Wednesday of October by the UN General Assembly in 2009.