Bridgetown, Barbados, July 06, 2020 – The highest decision-making body of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which forms The Council of Ministers, recognised the leadership role of Agency and by extension the Participating States in the management of the COVID-19 event during the 10th Annual Ordinary Session, which was held via ZOOM over two days, June 26 and July 3, 2020. The Council noted the efforts being undertaken by the Agency to coordinate response and relief to the region amidst the COVID-19 pandemic specifically in facilitating the relief supplies hub for the region.
The Council further considered that the risk of additional importation of COVID-19 cases to the rest of the Caribbean remains very high, and that active surveillance, testing, contact tracing and observance of safety protocols amongst the populations are critical to minimise new infections, as restrictions for the most part are being lifted in the countries.
St Kitts and Nevis assumed the Chairmanship of the CDEMA Council during the 10th Annual Ordinary Session and as the new Chairman, the Hon. Vincent Byron will serve in this position for the year 2020-2021. Hon. Byron is the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The meeting, which had representatives from eleven CDEMA Participating States discussed the sustainable financing matters of the CDEMA Coordinating Unit (CU), reviewed and recommended an extension of the CDEMA CU Corporate Plan 2017-2020 for one year 2017-2021.The Council also recognised that resource mobilisation efforts to finance the delivery of the work programme has borne fruit and acknowledged the support of the donors and partners who have pledged to provide support for specific deliverables, which will contribute to the achievement of results from the implementation of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy (2014-2024).
The Council also formally adopted the Model National Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) Policy and Adaptation Guide for CDEMA Participating States and recognized its role in the mainstreaming of Early Warning Systems into the pathway for resilient development and thanked the development partners for their support in the development of the regional strategic vision, Model National MHEWS Policy and Adaptation Guide.
Other key items discussed at the meeting included the state of readiness at the national operational level for possible disasters, especially during this multi-hazard environment where the region continues to manage the COVID-19 crisis. The session also noted the complexities of the 2020 hurricane season in the context of COVID-19 and reiterated the importance of countries to be ready and prepared at all times to protect lives, property and infrastructure.
The new Deputy Chairman elect of The Council is the Hon. Edmund G. Hinkson, Minister of Home Affairs, Barbados. The meeting also recognized and thanked the outgoing Chairman, Hon. Ralph L. Higgs, Minister of Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime, Gaming & Disaster Management, Turks and Caicos Islands. Special recognition and gratitude were extended to the former Executive Director of CDEMA, Mr Ronald Jackson for his seven years of service to the region during an Appreciation Ceremony held via ZOOM on June 26.