Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE has lauded the recent international accreditation conferred upon the National Disaster Management Programme (NDMP) as “an outstanding achievement and one we must celebrate and be very proud of.”
Premier Smith was speaking at the annual meeting of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) which was held on Thursday, June 25.
“This is indeed a significant step in showing the world that although we are a small group of islands we have the knowledge and skills to achieve big things. Our disaster management programme can match any other,” the Premier stated.
Speaking of having a greater appreciation for the importance of the disaster management programme, the Premier recalled his time as Chief Medical Officer and his involvement with regional partners such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and acknowledged the evolution of the programme to one that is now universally endorsed as a development priority.
He gave his government’s commitment to ensuring that the various sectors are true partners in the process of comprehensive disaster management and he committed to providing continued leadership to the NDMC in the areas of mitigation and recovery.
He further committed to supporting the vision of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy in creating a SMART footprint aimed towards resiliency and safe-guarding lives, livelihoods and the sustainable development of the BVI. The Premier called for full engagement of communities in identifying solutions to mitigate risks.
“We have an extensive skill base in the BVI and I see no reason why we cannot capitalise on this. We must find ways to engage persons in our communities who are willing to contribute their technical expertise to address complex problems. There is also need for more public-private-people partnerships,” he stated.
The Premier also acknowledged the need for closer connectivity between government programmes, particularly among the energy portfolio, climate change and disaster risk reduction.
“My Government is cognizant that any development initiatives must incorporate resilience measures as core components of their design to ensure that disaster management is mainstreamed into development and that these efforts are aligned with the climate change adaptation portfolio,” he added.
The restructuring of the NDMC in 2014 has allowed ministries to have direct oversight of the work of the sub-committees and to engage more directly with the sectors and communities. The Permanent Secretaries now sit at the helm of these committees with technical guidance being provided by the DDM. In recognition of this closer partnership, Permanent Secretaries and other key officials received EMAP accreditation pins and copies of the accreditation certificate at Thursday’s meeting.
Also recognised at the NDMC meeting was Mr. Elton Georges who in the 1970s set the foundation for the disaster management programme, carefully laying the steps to build a resilient programme that has evolved into one that is now recognised internationally.
Acknowledging the work that has been done over the years to allow the BVI to gain accreditation, Premier Smith expressed optimism about the future of the programme. “We have the expertise that we need to guide and implement the strategy. Together we can achieve it and together we will,” the Premier affirmed.
The National Disaster Management Council is the body mandated to provide oversight of the Territory’s disaster management programme. At its annual meeting, members receive the State of Preparedness Report and provide updates on the work of the various committees.