March 17, 2019
Challenge With a population of 36 million, the Caribbean region is home to a diverse array of languages and cultures, islands large and small, major coastal cities and small mountain villages. Small island developing States in the Caribbean and elsewhere have far higher levels of relative risk than many other regions. The topography, tectonic setting and location make the Caribbean region highly prone to natural hazards such as tropical cyclones, floods, volcanic and seismic activities, droughts and forest fires in addition to industrial accidents and epidemiological threats. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly natural hazards, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities. Towards a Solution In response to such risks, the Government of Cuba came together with UNDP and the Caribbean Risk Management Initiative in 2005 to develop the Risk Reduction Management Centres, a model of local risk reduction management. This model serves as an instrument to ensure that disaster management and development practices in any given territory are informed by an analysis of risk and vulnerability. The centre supports isolated and remote communities, which may not have access to information, so that they can prepare for potential threats. Communities are provided with equipment and training to identify, reduce and communicate risk as well as to take effective protective measures. The Government of Cuba has established a total of eight provincial and 84 municipal centres, linked to 310 communities. Since the model’s establishment, the centres have helped communities to reduce significantly the impact of hurricanes by facilitating community awareness and preparedness. Owing to its success in Cuba, the model of the centre has generated widespread interest from the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, which face similar challenges. Cuba, in collaboration with UNDP and the Caribbean Risk Management Initiative, worked with these countries and territory to adapt the model to their respective national/territorial contexts, strengthening risk reduction practices. The transfer of knowledge and practices from Cuba to the pilot countries has employed various mechanisms such as building local capacity for risk assessment at the local level, improving coordination at the national level and enhancing community-based early warning systems. Coherency in understanding the model and its application at all levels was crucial for successful implementation since each level has a specific and distinct role to play. The long- term aim of this South-South cooperation initiative is to strengthen local disaster management systems so that disaster risk and recovery are better integrated into disaster management planning and territorial development. The initiative has proved successful and adaptable in all participating countries while taking into consideration their local contexts. In Jamaica, early warning points were established in two locations: Old Harbor and Linstead. In addition, a central activity of the Jamaican pilot was the development of the Disaster Risk Information Platform in St. Catherine Parish. The user-friendly platform enables improved management of disaster risk information to be used to further community planning, development and disaster risk reduction efforts. In the Dominican Republic, national counterparts developed an emergency plan, a contingency plan for floods and an action plan for disaster risk reduction in community development. In Guyana, an awareness workshop was held with stakeholders from various agencies in which pilot sites were identified to establish Risk Reduction Management Centres. In the British Virgin Islands, the Anegada Zonal Disaster Management Team was established. The team’s role is to roll out the disaster risk reduction programme for the island, coordinate regular general meetings and ensure close collaboration with the district officer responsible for Anegada. The Risk Reduction Management Centre model is innovative in that it serves as a local administrative body to assist local governments in analysing risk and making risk-informed development decisions. Each Risk Reduction Management Centre is comprised of a small professional team that manages an information hub at the local level. The centres collect, analyse, compile and coordinate risk and disaster information in order to inform decision-making by local authorities. In addition, each centre facilitates the flow of information to and from communities, decision makers, national emergency/disaster authorities and key sector-specific actor. In order to ensure the replicability of this initiative, it is recommended that the following key steps be taken into consideration. The first is to understand both demand and supply. On the demand side, the need should be well articulated and aligned with development priorities. On the supply side, the experience must be sufficiently documented. The tools, methodologies and capacities of the provider country should be evaluated in order to ensure that the experience can be transferred. The second step is to adapt the model to another context, based on an understanding of the existing demand and capacity. The technical tools, training and assistance should be tailored to specific needs; mechanisms and processes can then be adapted in the partner country. Finally, documenting South-South experiences is an effective vehicle for development of participating countries. Countries/territories involved: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, British Virgin Islands Sustainable Development Goal targets: 11.b, 13.1 Supported by: UNDP Implementing entity: UNDP Project status: Completed Project period: 2011-2015 URL of the practice: recovery/compartiendo-experiencias–cooperacon-sur-sur-para-la-reduccion-.html; caribbean/ Contact: Name: Ms. Jacinda Fairholm, Programme Specialist, UNDP Regional Hub, Panama Email: