Sandals Foundation supports disaster preparedness training for MSMEs

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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WITH the 2018 hurricane season already under way, many Jamaicans are concerned about the country's preparedness for an active season.

Jamaica might have been spared the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, but the destruction caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dean in 2007 is still fresh in the minds of many.

The Sandals Foundation, in a bid to strengthen the country's resilience to such disasters, says it has lent its support to a series of training workshops being executed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.

The workshops, according to a release, will target owners of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) who are among the hardest hit in times of natural disasters.

Sandals Foundation Executive Director Heidi Clarke said that while the foundation is always willing to do whatever it can to help disaster-affected residents across the region get back on their feet, it is very critical that they also help to strengthen their preparation to minimise the devastation.

“From our disaster relief efforts across the region, we have seen first-hand the crippling effect that hurricanes and storms can have on an unprepared small business. We are therefore very happy to be supporting a programme that is working to prepare MSMEs to combat and minimise the devastating effects of these natural disasters, should they occur.”

The two-day workshops, the first of which was held July 16-17 at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, is designed to sensitise business owners of MSMEs on disaster risk reduction and contingency planning. At the end of the training workshop, the release said participants will be better able to apply the basic disaster risk reduction and contingency planning techniques that they have learnt in the operation of their businesses.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Dr Elsie Laurence-Chounoune said the workshops targeting MSMEs were necessary as these businesses are important drivers of equity, economic growth and sustained development in Jamaica.

“These enterprises create and retain wealth, generate employment, and provide support for private sector growth and expansion but are also particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of natural disasters. The risk of these small businesses not being able to reopen their doors after a natural disaster is great and something that cannot be ignored. As such, strengthening their capacity and laying a foundation of resilience now is essential for preventing and reducing the impact of future natural hazards,” Laurence-Chounoune said.

It is estimated that classified tax-paying MSMEs account for 97 per cent of all classified and registered enterprises in Jamaica, the release said.

The training workshop series was preceded by a training of trainers series, the objective of which was to improve the capacity of parish disaster coordinators and volunteers from across Jamaica with the requisite knowledge and skills to strengthen the planning by MSMEs. The workshops will include mini lectures and presentations, group and individual activities, simulation exercises and case studies.

The next workshop is scheduled for July 25-26 at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay.

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