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State Minister calls for review of building codes to guard homes against disasters

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By Devina Samaroo

In observance of International Day for Disaster Reduction, Minister of State Joseph Harmon underscored the need to improve the building codes in order to build resilience should a natural disaster hit Guyana.

“We need to address our building codes …the development of new building codes and specifications to make our buildings, structures and infrastructure disaster resilient,” the State Minister said during an event held at the Civil Defence Commission in observance of International Day for Disaster Reduction on Friday.

Harmon also said communication networks across the country need to be improved in order to keep in touch with people in times of disasters. He said the government will also have to increase its efforts to institutionalize disaster preparedness in all regions of Guyana.

United Nations Deputy Resident Representative, Shabnam Mallick

United Nations Deputy Resident Representative, Shabnam Mallick noted that disasters are gateways to poverty and distress, and therefore commended Guyana’s effort to not only build local resilience but to lend a helping hand to its neighbouring countries that are still reeling from some of the worst disasters that ever struck the Caribbean.

Though Guyana was spared the wrath of the hurricanes, the country has its fair share of disasters to overcome. A documentary prepared by the CDC details the history of disasters which occurred in Guyana.

The documentary explained that one of the earliest acts of widespread damage was committed by the 1804 flooding which preceded the February 1855 Kingston Great Flood which later saw the Kingston Seawall being erected in 1874.

Guyana was then hit by the January 2005 floods, the greatest to have hit the country causing billions of dollars in losses. In recent years, coastal and hinterland droughts caused billions in losses in the agriculture sector.

Houses in Berbice, Linden and the hinterland communities were destroyed by strong winds and in one case; a pregnant mother of two was killed after her house collapsed.

It is situations like these why the United Nation and countries worldwide take steps to implement disaster risk management for building a more equitable and sustainable future.

International Day for Disaster Reduction 2017 is being observed under the theme – Home Safe Home: Reducing Exposure, Reducing Displacement.

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