Message from Vice-President (Operations) on International Day for Disaster Reduction

Today, October 13, is being observed around the world as the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR). This year, the theme is “Live to Tell”, which is driving an important global conversation on how we can reduce mortality and improve awareness around disasters.

Here in the Caribbean, we cannot afford to underestimate our vulnerability to natural disasters. During the past two weeks, many of us have seen the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. In Haiti, at least 1000 people have died; across other islands, critical infrastructure has been destroyed.

These recent events emphasize the importance and relevance of the “Sendai Seven” campaign, the launch of which coincides with IDDR 2016. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, shifts our focus from disaster management to disaster risk management – a critical move if we are to improve our resilience to disasters.

This will also require planning for the expected impacts of climate change, which can exacerbate disasters. Here at CDB, we continue to emphasize climate resiliency in project design. We know that damage caused by natural disasters or the effects of climate change can undermine our goal of poverty reduction. So climate risk assessments and the use of related screening tools are now mandatory in the preparation of country strategy papers for each of our Borrowing Member Countries. We also continue to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure to reduce the impact of disasters on the poorest and most vulnerable members of Caribbean communities.

Although we have made great progress on disaster risk management and climate action, in partnership with our development partners and Governments, raising awareness about and reducing mortality caused by disasters requires strong commitment from all of us.

Individually, we must ensure that we know what to do in the event of a disaster, and we must encourage our friends and family to pay attention to early warning systems. Only then will we be able to recover quickly as a Region if disaster strikes, and “Live to Tell”.