Hon. Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph E. Gonsalves shares with Chisa Mikami, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. at the opening of the Sustainability Dialogue

Key partners, including Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves, The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), and The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), among others, recently gathered for the Sustainability Dialogues and Interventions for Institutionalizing and Advancing Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (EWS) in St Vincent and the Grenadines. This intiative fell within the Strengthening Integrated Early Warning Systems Project.

The one day workshop held on 19th October, 2018 provided the forum to examine opportunities and interventions on early warning and concrete actions from the Roadmap to Strengthening Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for More Effective Disaster Risk Reduction that were compiled following a stakeholder meeting held earlier in the year.  The stakeholder meeting reviewed the mechanisms, procedures, and roles of key agencies involved in the detection, monitoring and dissemination of early warning for natural and associated hazards.

The concrete actions are centred around each of the four pillars of an Early Warning System (EWS):

1. Disaster Risk Knowledge;
2. Detection, monitoring, analysis, and forecasting of the Hazards and possible consequences;
3. Warning, Dissemination and Communication; and
4. Preparedness and Response Capabilities

with specific consideration given to gender equality, multi-hazards, private sector involvement, governance, and financing. These areas of focus were also discussed in moderated panels on each of the four pillars of EWS.

Notably, Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves expressed his happiness in seeing the various entities present, of which there was a multidisciplinary group assembled. He made mention of areas such as Sandy Bay and Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau, and indicated that there was immense sea erosion requiring urgent attention in a sea defence to ensure that the village did not “disappear”.

The requirement for appropriate EWS was underscored by successive events regionally and internationally such as the 2017 hurricane season with its record-breaking Hurricane Irma and the equally devastating Maria. Therefore, there must be a common national understanding of what constitutes an EWS and the need to operate in a coordinated way and strengthen all four element, suggested Elizabeth Riley, Deputy Executive Director, CDEMA.

Similarly, Resident Representative a.i. for the UN Development Programme in Barbados and the OECS, Chisa Mikami remarked that the UN system recognized that to succeed and innovate for the sustainable development of societies, the requirement is to advance technology use, garner the concerted efforts of governments, and the necessary technical and institutional capacities to underpin a platform for expanding and sustaining Multi Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS) by the use and development of these capacities.

Concluding the Sustainability Dialogues, the multidisciplinary set of participants will take coordination arrangements for MHEWS in St. Vincent and The Grenadines, to legislate, as applicable, and to deliver on a regional, national and community set of concrete actions.  

Further details on the four pillars of EWS are to be found at https://www.cdema.org/ews/, where the EWS Toolkit exists and has been populated with targeted EWS papers and case studies for our Caribbean Region.

Strengthening integrated early warning systems for a more effective reduction of disaster risk in the Caribbean through knowledge and tool transfer" is a Disaster Risk Reduction project of the DIPECHO Action Plan for the Caribbean, implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (IFRC), and funded by the General Directorate of Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid of the European Union (ECHO).

This project, which takes place in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Cuba over an 18-month period, seeks to strengthen disaster preparedness and risk reduction through Integrated Early Warning Systems (EWS). Working in this important element for disaster risk reduction, is expected to enhance the prevention, mitigation and response capacities at both the institutional and community level, based on mutual learning and collaboration between countries and regional institutions working in disaster risk reduction across the Caribbean.  

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