National flood preparedness plan closer to becoming a reality
Guyana is well on its way to putting in place a National Flood Preparedness and Response Plan, a development which comes on the heels of a two-day intense workshop spearheaded by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC).
According to CDC Director General, Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup, the workshop which concluded on Wednesday was geared at producing a document which includes input from various stakeholder organisations. He revealed that the document should be of such that it details the roles and responsibilities of each participating organisation if a disaster of flood-like proportions should arise.
But although Guyana is not fully prepared to address a major disaster, if such a situation does arise “we know exactly what we have to do,” said Colonel Ramsarup. And this state of readiness he attributes to lessons learnt during the 2005 floods.
He revealed that as a result of the experience gained back then “we have a better coordinating mechanism at this time which is very important, and our inter-agency communication systems are now set up and our national emergency operation centre is there and ready to run at a moment’s notice,” Colonel Ramsarup assured.
However, with the added cooperation from stakeholder organisations, the likes of Government Ministries and other support agencies, the local flood response efforts should be further bolstered, he added.
But it was no simple task to bring collaborating organisations on board. According to Colonel Ramsarup, “there were also some challenges to face. We had many problems getting the various organisations to come together… and the level of seniority so that the decisions they make could be binding.”
But despite the initial challenges, there was significant input from the representatives of the stakeholder organisations that participated in the workshop, according to Operations Training Officer, Kester Craig. He expressed confidence that a well crafted flood response document is on the way with the level of participation that was forthcoming.
With the input that was derived at the workshop, efforts will be made at the level of the CDC, with support from consultants, to analyse the response as it relates to the outlined objectives needed for a realistic response plan.
The main purpose of the plan, according to the CDC Deputy Director, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Abraham, is to provide the CDC with a strategic guidance framework to prepare for and respond to floods, in order to reduce the damage impact associated with these events. Also, he noted that there is need to establish a centralised command and coordination structure. As such the discussions during the workshop were premised on four main objectives: to introduce the concept behind the preparation of the first draft of the flood preparedness and response plan; to arrive at consensus on roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders in flood preparedness and response; to arrive at consensus on the key procedures and actions to be taken to prepare for and respond to floods and to agree on the way forward for finalisation and implementation of the national flood preparedness plan.
“We will look at what we have and then we will extract and include what seems essential then we will resume consultations with the stakeholder organisation,” Craig related.
In essence, the proposed document will be circulated among the various organisations in an attempt to have them endorse same before it can be taken to Cabinet for approval and eventual implementation, according to Craig.
Once the plan is approved, an initial assimilation exercise will be conducted in the month of May in a bid to determine its efficacy. The response plan, which has been in the making for several months comes as part of Government’s collaboration with the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and the Inter-American Development Bank, through which funding is being sourced.