Opening Remarks of
Dr. Asha Kambon, Regional Adviser,
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean,
Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean
Permanent Secretary, Mr. Lawrence
Ms. Hanley of the Department of Planning and Statistics
Mr. Blackett, Director of the Nevis Disaster Management Department
Mr. Greene, Representative of the OAS
Colleagues, Good morning
I bring greetings on behalf of Mr. Hirohito Toda the Deputy Chief of ECLAC, Caribbean Subregional Headquarters, and on my own behalf in my
capacity of Regional Adviser
It is my pleasure to introduce to you members of the ECLAC team who will spend the next four days with you conducting this very important workshop.
With us is Mr. Lancelot Busby, retired Staff Member of ECLAC, and now Independent Consultant, Dr. Vincent Little of IICA, Dr. David Smith, Coastal
Engineer- Independent Consultant. Unfortunately, my ECLAC colleague Mr. Michael Hendrickson, Macro economist at ECLAC has had some difficulty
with travel and we still hoping that he will arrive.
This workshop, I think has been in the planning stages from any where between seven to ten months. And maybe even longer.
But maybe it is happening at the right time…..it comes after the people in our region have experienced different and complex disasters in the region
and such an experience should alert us to the urgency with which we should treat issues of natural and man made disasters and the fact that we live
in a multi-hazard environment and thus we have to be properly prepared for any event and take the necessary mitigation measures as a normal part
of our planning.
Of course I speak of the earthquake, measured 7.3 on Richter scale, which caused such devastation and destruction to Haiti and before that the
impact of the volcanic eruptions on your neighbour and ours, Montserrat.
According to a study undertaken by Pantin and Attz (2009) , the countries of the Caribbean subregion experienced approximately 76 natural
disasters between 1990 and 2008 and, based on Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) assessments of those events,
the total impact of natural disasters on the subregion was estimated at US$136 billion. The impact on the social sectors, which include damage and
loss to housing, health and education subsectors, was estimated at US$57 billion, or 42% of the total effect.
Disasters are a key constraint to development, and it has been argued that it is not geography alone that generates disasters, but rather
development processes that have shaped human vulnerability and hazards, paving the way for disasters.
Disaster risk reduction, therefore, needs to become a permanent process targeted to reduce existing and future risks and should be included in the
national development frameworks. In order for societies to achieve a sufficient level of disaster risk reduction, it requires capacities at all levels –
micro (community), meso, local government level and macro (at the national development level) and at the regional level.
The notion of disaster risk and its prevention and mitigation has, only within the last decade, taken its place within the development discourse and
within development planning.
One of the key lessons learnt by ECLAC through the technical support it provides in the evaluation of natural disasters, across the Caribbean region
is that more emphasis needs to be placed on the reduction of risk and the vulnerabilities of Caribbean SIDS.
There is sufficient evidence to suggest that natural disasters can decrease the momentum of development, as much time and resources in the
Caribbean subregion may be spent on reconstruction or getting back to the same level which countries had been before.
Our task over the next four days is to share with you the methodology for the estimating the macro socio- economic and environmental effects of
disasters. We hope through this process to not only leave you with a methodology to evaluate disasters, but with an commitment to the inclusion of
disaster mitigation in the development processes of these precious islands that we call home in the Caribbean.
Thank you for inviting us to conduct this workshop and we look forward to being with you and sharing this vital information over the next few days.
Asha Kambon, Ph D