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CDERA prepares for change in name, mandate

5/15/2009

A change in the name and scope of the regional disaster management agency is scheduled to take place on September 1, 2009.

Co-ordinator of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), Jeremy Collymore, noted that the change represents an important and transformational juncture of the organisation, as it becomes the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

“This new name reflects the recognition of the connection between preparing and responding to the consequences of hazard impacts and the proactive management of the underlying source of the vulnerabilities,” he explained recently while speaking at the opening ceremony of the 19th meeting of the CDERA Board of Directors.

“Our name and mandate will change, but fundamental values and our quest for organisational effectiveness will remain with us,” he added.

Acting Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, noted the importance of planning and regional collaboration within the disaster management system, given the impact of varied hazards on the Caribbean. He was happy to see the organisation hard at work managing the region’s preparations for, and response to, an increasing variety of threats.

Addressing the impending name change, Stuart said, “In many areas, the provisions of the CDERA agreement were limited, with a mandate largely
articulated within a preparedness and response context, notwithstanding the inclusion of some aspects of loss reduction.

“The next inevitable step then of effecting the transition to a disaster management agency – CDEMA – has positioned the Caribbean Community, through the Agency, to effectively and comprehensively mitigate, prevent, respond to and recover from those threats to which we remain vulnerable,” Stuart stated.

He noted that to date, at least 12 states have signed on to the new organisation, and stressed his confidence in the smooth transition. Stuart further explained that the change was guided by the “consciousness of the need to more strategically position CDERA to undertake the role of driver of the Comprehensive Disaster Management policies, which regional governments began to embrace, sharpened within the region”, to more of an area of practised priority planning.

Collymore, highlighting one of the shortcomings of the field in the region, said that while there is considerable vision for disaster management, sometimes the commitment to providing resources and training for this fell short. “The results of our most recent preparedness audit suggest an urgent need to revisit some fundamentals. The high turnover rate in the leadership of our disaster management programmes and the concentration of training in a small cadre of persons are conjoining to undermine capacity development initiatives,” he warned. (NC)

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