The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is partnering with the Nathan Ebanks Foundation (NEF) to raise awareness among persons with disabilities (PwDs) on disaster management plans, and to enhance the capacities and knowledge of aid workers during Disaster Preparedness and Hurricane Awareness Months.
This was noted by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, in a message at the April 10 launch of the Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair, read by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs. Marsha Henry-Martin.
“In Jamaica, persons with disabilities are among the most marginalised in the society as persons at times are not equipped mentally, physically or have the economic footing to care for persons living with disabilities. However, a disability does not mean that someone cannot be a productive and functioning member of society,” the Minister said.
The Family Expo and Special Needs Resource Fair will be held at Hope Gardens, in Kingston, on May 25, and at the Alpart Sports Club, St. Elizabeth, on July 4.
The Fair will bring together the special needs community, professional healthcare providers, businesses, and government and non-government organisations in one setting with access to social programmes, public information, education and services.
This year, the Fair will focus on climate change, disaster preparedness and resilience for persons with disabilities, especially children and the elderly.
“This partnership with the Nathan Ebanks Foundation is one way we can ensure capacity is built on both sides, which in turn will make us more resilient,” Minister McKenzie said.
The Nathan Ebanks Foundation is a non-profit organisation that is committed to ensuring that all children with disabilities and special needs in Jamaica receive equal access, necessary resources, and the opportunity to realise their full potential.
Mr. McKenzie underscored the Ministry’s promotion of inclusion, regardless of ability, and its support for the work of the Foundation.
“As the Minister, I stand with you, this Administration stands with you and the people of Jamaica stand with you as we forge a pathway of inclusion, which will ensure the protection mechanisms in emergencies and post crisis and recognise and respond to the needs of persons with disabilities, especially women, children and the elderly,” the Minister said.
The ODPEM’s partnership with NEF is in keeping with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Priority 4); the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 13), and the agency’s awareness campaign theme – ‘Reducing Risk, One Community at a Time’.
During Disaster Preparedness and Hurricane Awareness Months, which are observed in May and June, respectively, the ODPEM will also be staging a Disaster Preparedness Poster Competition and awards ceremony, in partnership with the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation; Disaster Risk Management Training for the vulnerable on June 2; and a Disaster Preparedness Expo with the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation on June 29.