St Kitts reviews disaster plans
BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Friday March 18, 2011 – The increased frequency of natural disasters and the forecasted growth in intensity as a result of climate change, have prompted disaster and education officials to redouble efforts in formulating strategies to protect life and property.
This was stressed as teachers from public primary and secondary schools gathered for a three-day workshop, which ends today, to reactivate the St. Kitts School Safety Programme.
“We recognize that St. Kitts finds itself, through no fault of ours, in an area which is very prone to a large number of disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes,” said Dr. Michael Blake, a Senior Education Officer within the Ministry of Education. And, as such, he said the ministry is “very concerned” that a clear policy is not yet in place that will minimize casualties and damage to structures in the event that a disaster should strike while school is in session.
The programme was implemented some years ago but was discontinued as a result of a variety of challenges experienced by the facilitators.
However, local authorities have resuscitated the initiative which is being supported by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Facilitator Audrey Mullings, the consultant for St. Kitts and Nevis at USAID/OFDA, said that the agency is working closely with regional governments and national disaster organisations on a range of projects including earthquake safety and a tsunami early warning system.
She added that the School Safety Programme being instituted is a training of trainers workshop.
“OFDA recognizes all the hazards we have in the region and one of the areas we thought was important was strengthening risk management education,” Mullings stressed. “So what we have done is to look at the experiences, pull together some specialist and we think that preparedness efforts in school will save lives, not only for the school students and teachers but really for the wider community in emergencies. We also want to look at education and make it a more useful tool in the prevention and solution of problems that may occur.”
A similar activity is also scheduled to take place on Nevis later this month.
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