Protocol and Acknowledgements I am delighted to be in Nevis today. Of course the surrounding environment coupled with the natural beauty of this island is among the reasons that give rise to my delight. Being among colleagues, friends and development partners, in this tropical setting, where goodwill prevails, and where a spirit of cooperation and collaboration is clearly evident, are factors that also add to my delight.
My delight also has its origins in the fact that the Organization of American States, through its Special Multilateral Fund for the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI), is the proud sponsor of this Disaster Management and Mitigation Project for the island of Nevis. Considering that we have just entered the beginning of the 2010 hurricane season, I am sure you will agree with me that the launching of this project is most timely.
I have been told that during the hurricane season a number of citizens make it their duty to pray that the directions which storms take would be far away from the Federation, so that our islands would not be impacted. I take pleasure in declaring that I will be a prayer partner with this group of citizens because, like them, I am cognizant of the unspeakable devastating consequences that could result from a hurricane striking our islands. The negative fall out for the economy, the infrastructure, businesses and the livelihoods of people is not a prospect that any of us would welcome. The likelihood of a storm setting back the progress that we have made during the past two and a half decades is not a matter that we wish to contemplate now or in the future. Aware of the information that the Hurricane Forecasters have provided for the current season, I think it is important that we remain prayerful, and that all of us take the necessary steps to make the requisite preparations that would help mitigate the effects of any possible storm.
At the opening ceremony of the 3rd International Disaster and Risk Conference held recently, delegates pointed to the following: (1) we have to always expect the unexpected, and this means we have to be always rethinking our emergency system; (2) more attention should be paid to non- engineering measures. (3) Disasters have become the order of the day, and as such we have to become familiar with them; and (4) everything is linked and we have to look at disaster in coordinated and integrated ways.
As the OAS Representative in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, I relish the opportunity to continue working with all the functionaries in the Federation to ensure that the technical cooperation projects, programs and activities that the organization provides for St. Kitts and Nevis are proportionately allocated for the benefit of all the citizens who reside on both sides of the channel. The launch of this project today and the signing of the Memorandum of Understand (MOU) that will govern the terms and conditions under which it is implemented are testimony that we are making meaningful progress in this regard.
I wish to commend the Director of the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD) Mr. Lester Blackett, members of his staff and officials from the partner ministries for working together in designing and writing this project that ultimately won the approval of the OAS’s evaluation committee and the ICAD Management Board as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
One of the most attractive features of this project is that it involves multiple agencies both at the Federal and local Government levels. Each entity has a unique and special role. That they are onboard is a fact that adds considerable prestige to the project. The OAS sees this as a good example of a project that (1) involves credible cooperation partners thereby allowing for the sharing of best practices and the exchange of information, while promoting and encouraging broader participation of all sectors of society, (2) it allows for the efficient use of scarce financial, material and human resources (3) it leverages allocated financial resources by attracting other entities, and in the process optimizes its funding; and (4) it promotes the mobilization of external resources. In this connection therefore, this project shows considerable potential to meet its stated goals and objectives. I wish to call on all those who will be involved in this project’s execution to give Mr. Blackett and his staff your fullest support and cooperation to ensure timely and efficient execution.
It is fully understood by my organization that the security concerns of small island states, such as St. Kitts and Nevis are of a multidimensional nature.
In this connection, one of the areas that the OAS has continued to place greater emphasis is disaster preparedness and response.
Through its unit for Sustainable Development and Environment, the OAS has embarked on a number of important initiatives. The first is aimed at disaster mitigation in the Caribbean, through programs such as community preparation, the introduction of building codes, strengthening the security of shelters and the preparation of risk maps. The second is known as the Caribbean Integrated Coastal Management program and is aimed at strengthening institutional capacity and enacting appropriate legislation for the protection of ecosystems; and lastly, conducting consultations with member states on policies and planning processes that will guide the development of coastal zones and the management of ecosystems within them.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Designing prevention polices and preparing and training the emergency response workers in OAS member countries have been part of a wider Inter- American Strategic Plan for Policy on Vulnerability Reduction, Risk Management and Disaster Response. In 1999, the OAS established the Inter- American Committee for Natural Disaster Reduction that aims to strengthen mechanisms for cooperation between the various organizations that comprise the Inter-American system. This Committee has developed into a forum for the discussion of disaster reduction policies and for the allocations of tasks and responsibilities among the different organizations in the fields of health (e.g. PAHO), reconstruction (the World Bank) and reduction vulnerabilities (the Inter-American Development Bank).
The goals and objectives set forth in this project are far reaching. When accomplished, Nevis and the Federation as a whole would be a model of disaster management, preparedness and response.
However, to achieve this, it will require good management and the unwavering cooperation of all the relevant entities. It is important that every effort is undertaken to ensure that this project is carried out within the fourteen month period agreed upon. Measures should be put in place to avoid bottlenecks and bureaucratic delays. The OAS, St. Kitts and Nevis Office stands ready to provide any support that would be needed and our technical experts in the Secretariat for Integral Development at Headquarters are also on standby to make the requisite inputs that would ensure the success of the implementation exercise.
In a few minutes, I will join the Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Ministry, Ms. Angelica Elliott and the Director of the Nevis Disaster Management Department, Mr. Lester Blackett in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding that governs this project funded by the OAS’s Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI). The OAS looks forward to continue its close collaboration with Federal and local authorities in the delivery of developmental cooperation to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis in the established areas of priority.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen!
Remarks by Starret Greene OAS representative - St. Kitts & Nevis