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Holness recommends training for community members as disaster first responders

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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ST JAMES, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has made a recommendation for community members to be trained as disaster first responders.

“Local government has so much to do with preparing the minds of the citizens as it relates to natural disasters. A big part of this preparedness is training coordinators to re-culture how citizens operate, which includes getting people not to live in gully courses and on river banks,” Holness said at the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development governance conference in Montego Bay yesterday.

“There is nothing more powerful than the councillor explaining to them (citizens) the dangers they face when they do things that could create disaster risks, and having locally structured programmes to facilitate their movement and prevent and lower these risks,” he added.

The prime minister also challenged the island’s municipal corporations to train their staff in disaster management.

“If the corporations require assistance, they should collaborate with existing bodies, such as the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme to get training to equip young people in communities to assist in times of natural or man-made disasters,” he suggested.

Meanwhile, Local Government and Community Development Minister, Desmond McKenzie, said it is his desire to see noticeable improvements in disaster risk reduction, mitigation and resilience modalities in all municipal corporations.

The minister said he also welcomed the recommendations made by Holness.

McKenzie noted that the conference is a precursor to the regional conference on disaster management and risk reduction to be held in July 2020.

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