Nevis joins in observance of International Day for Disaster Reduction

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (October 13, 2018) — The following is an address delivered by Ms. Rhosyll Jeffers, Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture with responsibility for Disaster Management on Nevis,  on the occasion of International Day for Disaster Reduction observed on October 13, 2018.

The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) serves as a global platform to coordinate disaster reduction. They also ensure synergies among disaster reduction activities of the United Nations member states and associations.

The formal recognition of the International Day for Disaster Reduction came about in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.

The International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) is commemorated annually on the 13th day of October. The objective of the observance of the IDDR is to recognize the efforts of people and communities worldwide to reduce their risk to disasters and to raise awareness about the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

It is also a day to encourage every citizen and government to participate in building more disaster resilient communities and nations.

In an effort to implement the global disaster management vision, the UNISDR implements various activities around the annual commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR).

Every year, the UNISDR identifies a specific theme to which the IDDR is celebrated, and this year’s theme is: “Reducing disaster economic losses in relation to global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030.” This theme continues as part of Target C of the Sendai Framework.

As we are aware, disasters are costly events triggering billions of dollars in losses annually. This impact is felt across the entire spectrum of society, and further disadvantages the poorest in our communities.

The number of people at risk of natural hazards has tripled over the past decade and recovery costs quadrupled. Most of the people affected live in the poorest countries with women, people with disabilities, and the elderly being particularly vulnerable.

The United Nations reports that 26 million people are driven into poverty by disasters annually, as these events negatively impact our economies and most importantly our way of life.

The impacts of major hurricanes Irma and Maria of 2017, are stark reminders of how fragile the economies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are.

The Nevis Island Administration (NIA) continues to provide the necessary support to the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD), to adequately promote a culture of disaster reduction, coordinate preparedness and mitigate any impact the island may experience.

The commemoration of the IDDR on Nevis is therefore meant to ensure:
– every citizen understands the term disaster risk;

  • The strengthening of disaster risk governance to manage these risk;
  • encourage investment in disaster risk reduction for resilience; and enhance disaster preparedness for effective response and to build back better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The activities over the past week included an Open Day at the Disaster Management Department, where the general public was invited to learn about the operations at that office.

A public awareness event at the Water Front in Charlestown in collaboration with the Ministry of Education with live presentations from the primary schools,
youth volunteers, the St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross Society and
the St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services.

Disaster Risk Reduction concerts were conducted in all primary schools. The activities concluded with a staff retreat with the National Emergency Management Agency on St. Kitts and attendance at the Charlestown Methodist Church.

The Nevis Disaster Management Department must be commended for its proactive measures in implementing its Twelve Month Multi-Hazard campaign in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the primary schools.

This campaign involves a participatory approach where students of each primary school highlight the natural hazards that we are exposed to as an island. The students provided safety tips of what can be done before, during, and after each hazard.

Additionally, the Nevis Disaster Management in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), will be conducting a workshop to mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction Education (DRRE) and Resilient Education (RE) in the school curriculum.

The need to build our resilience and reduce the vulnerability of our society has become more crucial than ever. Indiscriminate disposal of waste and single use plastics are contributory factors to the blocking of drains, the development of vector borne diseases and the negative impacts on our marine life.

These mal practices threaten our food security, our livelihoods and our very existence. We have no choice than to develop and enhance the capacities of every individual, organizations and communities to effectively manage our risks.

Vulnerability to disasters can only be minimized through effective disaster risk reduction.

As the island of Nevis joins the world to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Reduction, I appeal to every citizen, the young, the youths, the matured and the experienced to stand up and join the efforts of building a resilient nation for a brighter future.

God bless us all!



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