Thirty-nine years after the last eruption of the La Soufriere volcano, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF), and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre (SRC) are continuing efforts to prepare communities closest to the volcano to handle potential risks.

The Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines endorsed a project proposed by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre (SRC) entitled “Volcano-Ready Communities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”. The project was launched in Sandy Bay on Thursday 5th April, 2018 at the Government School.

The Volcano-Ready Communities in SVG project is spearheaded by the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund in conjunction with NEMO and is being funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and the European Union.

Project Manager CDRRF, Ms. Claudia James said the project was designed by the UWI Seismic Research Centre.  She explained that the Caribbean Development Bank manages the multi-donor funding for the project. Ms James acknowledged the large turn out from the community adding that their presence of is indicative of their interest and the importance that they place on the project.

The project is being executed at a cost of USD $618,700.

Project Manager, UWI Seismic Research Centre, Ms. Monique Johnson, in her project overview, said that the primary objective of the project is to increase awareness and enhance community response to volcanic hazards in twelve communities earmarked as high risk zones.

Ms. Johnson added that the communities involved will be empowered to better manage and reduce potential risks and death toll in the event of a volcanic disaster. Johnson told the audience that she is looking forward to working along with everyone and expressed gratitude for the support shown by their presence at the project launch.

The Windward communities comprise Fancy, Owia, Sandy Bay, Overland, Big Level, South Rivers, Park Hill, Colonarie, and the Leeward communities comprise Fitz Hughes, Chateaubelair, Rose Hall, and Spring Village, Ms. Johnson disclosed. The project entails community engagement activities in conjunction with NEMO and other groups.

Professor Richard Robertson, Director UWI Seismic Research Centre, reminded the audience of the threat of volcanic eruption which can cause destruction. Dr. Robertson stated he was very glad that they got the funding to start the project. He reminded the audience that it was necessary for them to understand and have the capacity to respond in the event of La Soufriere eruption. The project is only going to make a difference if you become fully engaged, Dr. Robertson said. He added that the Volcano-Ready Communities project is a first in the region.

Canadian Director to the Caribbean Development Bank, Mr. Benoît-Pierre Laramée, making remarks at the launch said he is proud that the Canadian Government is one of the donors for the Volcano-Ready Communities Project. Mr Laramée applauded the Government of SVG, the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund, the CDB, and the UWI for taking the lead in this very important project not only for the region but for all small island developing states.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Godfred Pompey, expressed his appreciation for the support given to this country by respective donors.

Area Representative and Minister with responsibility for Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Land and Surveys, and Physical Planning, Hon. Montgomery Daniel, said the project is very timely and progressive for SVG. “It is very important that we learn to save lives,” Minister Daniel said.

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