We, collectively, are indeed pleased to partner with the Nevis Disaster Management Department in this important and far reaching project, jointly funded by the Organisation of American States, through its special multilateral fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI), and the Nevis Island Administration. Disaster Management, Disaster Mitigation, Disaster Risk Reduction whatever terms are used, must be a part of the program for all agencies whether its Agriculture, Fisheries, Health or Social Development; sectors: whether its Construction
or Project Development or in our specific cases, Economic Planning & Statistics, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Environment and yes for my agency too, Tourism.
The Tourism Industry is the driving force behind the economic viability and sustainability of the Nevisian economy. It is therefore imperative that the infrastructure of the industry be constructed and maintained in a condition to mitigate the effects of a natural disaster (and also man-made disasters). The severe impact of Hurricane Omar on the Tourism product has been felt by all in Nevis, to a lesser extent in St. Kitts and indirectly in the wider Caribbean, as reportedly 40% of the GDP of Nevis has been lost. There have been many sacrifices made over the last 20 months as we have struggled with the negative impact of its closure.
Given the continued susceptibility of the Caribbean region to various hazards including hurricanes, coupled with the likelihood that this exposure is expected to continue and possibly even be exacerbated (note the very active hurricane forecast for 2010), our partnership with this project is essential as we seek to address some of these needs. The project will identify current risks and assist in mitigating those risks through streamlined planning of economic development, physical development, and tourism-related policies. The project is designed as a multi-lateral and multi-agency project, which will receive inputs and produce benefits across the board.
Two important objectives of the project are the assessment of natural hazard impacts on development projects which will complement the environmental impact assessment currently undertaken, as well as the development of the economic assessment capabilities following a disaster, which provides critical information for local, regional and international agencies in the recovery and reconstruction period. The establishment of policies, standards and enforceable regulations are also considered critical to the planned physical development of Nevis, especially when coupled with targeted training and skill development.
Another essential project objective is the local adaptation of information and strategies collated in the Regional Disaster for Sustainable Tourism Project document developed by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the OAS and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO). We will not be re-inventing the wheel but rather utilizing the collective skills and insights of Caribbean experts and adapting best practices to our local situation.
The Project was proposed under the priority areas of the OAS Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development that includes Sustainable Development and the Environment, and the Sustainable Development of Tourism and includes:
• The strengthening the capability of member states to identify and mitigate the risks of natural and man-made disasters, in order to mainstream planning of both areas within economic development policies, working at the sector-specific levels with the private sector and civil society;
• Supporting public-private collaboration in human resource capacity-building in the sharing of scientific information, best environmental management practices, regulatory standards and enforcement issues, and encouraging the use of information and communication technologies in support of sustainable development;
• Ensuring that disaster planning is also extended to the area of tourism, as part of the OAS’ multi-sectoral approach to reduce the impact of natural and man-made disasters on member states, by developing mechanisms to prepare for and recover from disasters affecting tourism infrastructure, particularly in small economies, as well as ensuring visitor safety and security.
I have attempted to add to the information just presented by Mr. Blackett, the Project Coordinator. As project partners and on behalf of our various Departments and Ministries; we Eren Hanley & Ernie Dore (Economic Planning), Angela Walters (Physical Planning) and yours truly Tamica Lawrence (Tourism) will work in partnership with the Disaster Management Department, supporting this project during its implementation over the next year to the benefit of all Nevisians while sharing the information, training and technologies with our Kittitian counterparts.
Remarks by Tamica Lawrence Tourism Officer - Ministry of Tourism OAS Project Partner