Specific disaster fund, updated legislation would help Guyana’s recovery efforts – CDC hears

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The creation of a specific disaster fund and updated legislation would help Guyana advance its rebuilding and recovery efforts after a disaster such as flooding.

This was stated during a Virtual workshop held on Thursday among the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and other stakeholders.

This workshop focused on Guyana’s adoption of the updated Model Recovery Framework; this is meant to bridge current gaps Caribbean countries’ disaster recovery.

Director-General of the CDC Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig told the gathering that the framework is being advanced while Guyana is in one of its recovery phases from the May/June flooding.

Director-General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Lieutenant-Colonel Kester Craig (Photo: News Room/June 2, 2021)

The nationwide flooding, he related, affected over 51,000 households or about a quarter of all households in Guyana.

Already, President Dr. Irfaan Ali announced that thousands of Guyanese who were affected by the recent flooding will receive cash grants, totalling billions.

As CDC works on the country’s recovery strategy, the Lieutenant-Colonel said that framework would provide additional processes to carefully guide the country’s recovery.

According to information provided by consultant Annmarie Goulbourne, Guyana has been weak in the recovery phase following a disaster.

This, she related, was due to several gaps in recovery efforts, including limited data collection and analysis and inconsistent monitoring and evaluation of recovery projects and initiatives.

She also said that there are some legislative, financial and institutional shortcomings.

Importantly, Goulbourne said that Guyana- like most Caribbean countries- also lacks adequate pre-disaster recovery planning.

As such, in the updated Model National Recovery Framework, she highlighted a number of areas where the country can improve on.

Establishing a Disaster Contingency Fund- separate from Guyana’s overall contingency fund- that would have budgetary allocations to aid disaster recovery specifically was one such area.

And, she explained that this fund would help to minimise dependency on external resources (such as external financing) to initiate recovery efforts.

Drafting and enacting a disaster risk financing act or policy, a social protection act and a disaster risk management act were also outlined as strategic targets Guyana should focus on.

Already, however, efforts are being made to enact a new disaster risk management act.

Other objectives include focusing on building local capacity, improving cohesiveness among stakeholders and ensuring that gender-sensitive, all-inclusive approaches are taken to facilitate recovery.

Meanwhile, Executive Director (ag.) of CDEMA Andria Grosvenor highlighted that Guyana has been selected as one of the five states to advance the adoption of the framework.

Importantly, she explained that Caribbean countries are vulnerable to different hazards. Still, she said that countries can learn from each other and strengthen their abilities to withstand disasters.

This year alone, Guyana has grappled with its nationwide flooding and earthquakes. Across the Caribbean, St. Vincent and the Grenadines dealt with the eruption of its La Soufrière volcano and a few countries were impacted by hurricanes.

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