The 2018 hurricane season is already underway and many Jamaicans are concerned about the country’s preparedness for an active hurricane season. Although Jamaica was spared the devastating effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, the destruction caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dean is 2007 is still fresh in the minds of many. These two hurricanes resulted in damages totaling over J$48 billion.
The Sandals Foundation, in a bid to strengthen the country’s resilience to such disasters has lent its support to a series of training workshops being executed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). The workshops target owners of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) who are among the hardest hit in times of natural disasters.
Sandals Foundation Executive Director, Heidi Clarke, said, while the Foundation is always willing to do whatever it can to help disaster affected residents across the region get back on their feet, it is very critical that they also help to strengthen their preparation to minimize the devastation.
“From our disaster relief efforts across the region, we have seen first-hand the crippling effect that hurricanes and storms can have on an unprepared small business. We are therefore very happy to be supporting a programme that is working to prepare MSMEs to combat and minimize the devastating effects of these natural disasters, should they occur.”
The two-day workshops, the first of which was held on Monday and Tuesday this week (July 16 -17) at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, is designed to sensitize business owners of MSMEs on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and contingency planning. At the end of the training workshop, participants will be better able to apply the basic disaster risk reduction and contingency planning techniques that they have learnt in the operation of their businesses.
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Dr. Elsie Laurence-Chounoune, said the workshops targeting MSMEs were necessary as these businesses are important drivers of equity, economic growth and sustained development in Jamaica.
“These enterprises create and retain wealth, generate employment, and provide support for private sector growth and expansion but are also particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of natural disasters. The risk of these small businesses not being able to reopen their doors after a natural disaster is great and something that cannot be ignored. As such, strengthening their capacity and laying a foundation of resilience now is essential for preventing and reducing the impact of future natural hazards.” It is estimated that classified tax-paying MSMEs account for 97.6% of all classified and registered enterprises in Jamaica.
The training workshop series was preceded by a training of trainers series, the objective of which was to improve the capacity of parish disaster coordinators and volunteers from across the Jamaica with the requisite knowledge and skills to strengthen the planning by MSMEs. The workshops will include mini lectures and presentations, group and individual activities, simulation exercises and case studies.
The next workshop is scheduled for July 25 – 26 at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay.