European Union launches new disaster preparedness plan in the Caribbean


The European Union has allocated 10 million dollars (9.33 million euros ) for risk reduction activities in the Caribbean. Communities highly exposed to floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes will benefit from disaster preparedness projects funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), through its DIPECHO Programme (Disaster Preparedness ECHO). A total of 14 projects will be implemented in the region between 2015 and 2016 in order to reduce the vulnerability to natural hazards and to better prepare communities and authorities to respond to emergencies.

“We have been working on Disaster Risk Reduction in the Caribbean for more than a decade. We recognize this topic has become more relevant, but there are still significant needs in terms of resources and capacities,” said Virginie André, ECHO responsible for the Caribbean. “Through the DIPECHO programme, we support local and national efforts in order for institutions and communities to better anticipate the potential impact of any natural adverse event, and to limit their consequences. The focus is on strengthening capacities and changing attitudes to save lives,” commented André.

The 2015-2016 DIPECHO Action Plan aims at reducing the impact of future disasters in the Caribbean by preparing vulnerable populations affected by frequent disasters, strengthening their resilience. Activities funded include simple and inexpensive preparatory measures carried out by the communities themselves, such as risk mapping, emergency plans, early warning systems, education campaigns and small infrastructure projects; all activities are aimed at avoiding the loss of lives, property and livelihood. Actions also focus on urban risks and are aimed at reducing cities’ vulnerability. More than 400 000 people will benefit from this assistance throughout the region.

ECHO’s strategy in the Caribbean in the framework of the DIPECHO programme includes the consolidation of successful experiences developed in the region during the past years, support to national programs for Safe Schools and Hospitals, strengthening of early warning systems, and optimization of information management and communication about Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the region.

ECHO advocates for the integration of DRR efforts into the Caribbean development policy, that is why it facilitates meetings and dialogue between the actors involved in risk management and promotes the adoption of policies and strategies related to DRR. In that way, all DIPECHO projects will be implemented in close coordination with the national risk management systems of each country and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The Caribbean, one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world, is the scenario in which disaster preparedness projects funded by ECHO have been constantly and successfully tested, as it has been shown in recent emergency responses.

Since 1994, ECHO has allocated over 488 million Euros in humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean. Of these, 70 million euros were allocated to disaster risk reduction and preparedness in the region contributing to strengthen resilience of the most vulnerable people in the region.

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