Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 14, 2021 (SKNIS):The National Emergency Management Agency’s (NEMA) role is more than hurricane-centric as it focuses on natural and man-made disasters, said Claricia Langley-Stevens, Deputy National Disaster Coordinator.
Speaking on the July 14 edition of Working for You, Mrs. Langley-Stevens said that signing on to the Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy (CDMS) in 2016, through NEMA’s parent organization the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), propelled NEMA to be viewed as more than just hurricane-centric.
“That positions the agency here in St. Kitts and the Nevis Disaster Management Department to be able to embrace protocols and standards that would ensure that we are no longer viewed as a hurricane-eccentric office but we look at all hazards with the inclusion of all persons, looking at the policy, operational, strategic levels, as well as volunteer which is the community level. So everybody has a role to play,” said the Deputy National Disaster Coordinator.
Mrs. Langley-Stevens said that several reforms were necessary to strengthen partnership structures.
“The agency [NEMA] itself had to go through a process of transformation and build capacity to be able to develop partnerships with our stakeholders that would ensure that we continue to move away from being hurricane-centric and to be that of a more comprehensive nature,” she said. “This is being guided by the National Disaster Management Plan that the agency would utilize to be able to make decisions and recommendations to the government in preparation or to respond to any impact.”
She noted that due to a small staff size at NEMA, it was important to have national sub-committees in place to assist.
“We know that we cannot do it alone and that is why we are supported by entities such as the National Sub-committee Chairpersons. They are primarily responsible for looking at developing plans and strategies to be able to support some of the critical areas that we have to give attention to,” said Mrs. Langley-Stevens. “We have blanketed all the critical areas that would allow for the agency to have that support.”
The National Sub-committees include Warning, Communication and Education; Medical and Public Health; Transport; Housing and Shelter; Damage Assessment and Evaluation; Environment; Foreign Assistance; Welfare, Relief Supplies and Shelter Management; Utilities; and Search, Rescue and Initial Clearance.