Bridgetown, Barbados, January 11, 2023 – Chairman of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency
Management Agency (CDEMA) the Honourable Shawn Edward intends to raise the level of
awareness about managing disasters and mitigating the impact as the region continues to face
an increasing multi-hazard environment.
He told a media briefing while touring the Barbados-based agency on Tuesday, January 10, 2023
that greater focus must be on expanding public education with a view of getting “people of the
region to develop a greater appreciation for disaster management, disaster mitigation, safety” and
getting a better understanding of the consequences of disasters on the vulnerable economies of
“Public education and awareness for me are critical. You can have all the technical expertise, you
can invest in all the modern equipment critical to effective disaster management. But there are
too many people in the region who die during times of disasters, deaths, that on review, were
avoidable or could have been avoided,” he added.
The Chairman said he does not believe that the average citizen across the Caribbean, knows
about “disaster preparedness and mitigation in a way that would cause me to be satisfied” and as
such “there’s a lot of work to be done”.
“We still have too many people in the region who approach disaster management and safety in a
haphazard way. And part of our mandate moving forward, or my mandate as chair, at least for
the period that I’m presiding over the agency, is to go into schools to tap into the interests of our
people at a very young age so they grow up not responding to the dictates of an agency, but they
will be growing up with an appreciation for something that has implications for them at every stage
of their development.
“If that can be embarked upon and we can achieve this that would be a major accomplishment
during my chairmanship,” said Mr. Edward, who is also St. Lucia’s Minister of Education,
Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training.
Flanked by CDEMA’s Executive Director Ms. Elizabeth Riley and newly appointed Deputy
Executive Director, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, the Chairman said the agency will continue to work with other regional organizations and key stakeholders to spread the important messages
throughout its 19 Participating States and “within the confines” of students’ classrooms.
“The intention is to complement the work being executed through the “Safe School” programme
which is already in some of CDEMA’s Participating States, public service announcements and
“effective use of social as well as mainstream media,” Chairman Edward added.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is a regional intergovernmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).The
agency comprises nineteen (19) Participating States (PS): Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda,
Cayman Islands, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Commonwealth of
Dominica, Grenada, Republic of Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint
Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos
Islands and the Virgin Islands. CDEMA is governed through the Council of Ministers, a Technical
Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Coordinating Unit. As a specialized regional Agency of
CARICOM, the Heads of Government of the Participating States determine the policies. The
Council is the highest level of governance of CDEMA determining policy and policy decisions at
For further information, please contact:
Communication and Public Relations Specialist
CARIBBEAN DISASTER EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (CDEMA)
Resilience Way, Lower Estate
Tel #: (246) 434-4880
Fax #: (246) 271-3660
Cell #: (246) 266-1976