‘Small adjustments’ needed for Disaster Risk Management bill

- says CDC Director-General

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By Vishani Ragobeer

Minor adjustments and inputs are needed before Guyana’s Disaster Risk Management bill, which has been in the works since 2012, can be sent for review, according to Director-General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig.

Responding to questions from the News Room at the sidelines of an event on Wednesday, the Director-General highlighted that the bill was finalised in 2019 but now, it requires some minor adjustments following changes that occurred after the 2020 Regional and General elections.

One of the components needed, according to the Director-General, is input from Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips since he has oversight for disaster risk management in Guyana.

After that input is made, the CDC Head said that the draft bill will be sent to the Attorney-General’s chamber and subsequently, to Cabinet for scrutiny and if necessary, further adjustments. Thereafter, it is expected that the bill will be sent to the National Assembly for debate and possible passage.

No timeline for these adjustments and reviews was given but the Director-General emphasised that the bill was in its “advance stages”.

“The bill would give the CDC and other response organisations the necessary clout to effectively respond to their mandate as it responds to disaster risk management,” Lieutenant-Colonel Craig said, while explaining the usefulness of such a bill.

There have been widespread consultations on this bill on a number of occasions. Previously, the Director-General reportedly said that much emphasis was placed on ensuring that the bill was “comprehensive”.

He explained that the bill should function to integrate community and local government bodies to ensure that there is an overarching disaster risk management system in Guyana.

SYSTEMIC UPGRADES

Meanwhile, the CDC has been working alongside numerous stakeholders in a bid to systemically upgrade Guyana’s disaster risk management and preparedness systems. Currently, the CDC has been working to decentralise disaster risk management by establishing regional, municipal and community disaster risk management systems. Construction of regional warehouses and prepositioning of warehouse supplies has also been a focus.

Recently, the CDC began the process of improving its detection of and response towards natural and man-made hazards by assessing its current Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems (MHEWS).

On Wednesday, Lieutenant Colonel Craig highlighted that the CDC has also been expanding its staff complement due to a revised organisational structure that has been introduced.

“New structure caters for a new mandate and demands more…and that structure was just approved,” the CDC Head said.

It was explained that new responsibilities of the CDC, such as oil spill response and responding to health outbreaks, necessitated this new staffing structure.

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