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Disaster Management at the National Level

At the national level, Jamaica’s disaster management programme is managed by the National Disaster Committee (NDC) and its six sub-committees.

The NDC is the senior Jamaican disaster planning body. The ODPEM is the main body within the NDC responsible for coordinating the management of the various types of disasters that affect the nation. The Prime Minister is the Chairman of the NDC and he is the overall manager of the nation’s preparedness, mitigation, recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

NDC Structure

Structure of the National Disaster Committee (NDC)

The National Disaster Committee (NDC) was initially conceptualized in the late 1970s as a Policy and Technical Oversight Committee to guide the Prime Minister on the planning and implementation of all measures considered necessary or desirable to plan for and counter the effects of disasters.

The Committee was then under the Chairmanship of then Prime Minister, Honourable Edward Seaga, and included several key agencies such as the Permanent Secretaries of several Ministries, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), the Commissioner of Police and the Chief of Staff of the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF), among others.

The Committee then became dormant during the 1980’s but was eventually resuscitated in 1989 under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Michael Manley.

Members of the NDC

Several agencies are members of the NDC and they work alongside the ODPEM to fulfill its mandate.  These include:

  • All GoJ Ministries
  • All utility companies
  • International donor agencies such as the Salvation Army and the Jamaica Red Cross
  • Search and rescue organizations such as the Jamaica Defense Force (JDF), the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB).

These agencies are placed within the response matrix to maximize their effectiveness.

General Responsibilities of the NDC

As Chairman of the NDC, the Prime Minister meets with the team on an annual basis to approve disaster policy matters with the National Disaster Executive (NDE), the body that oversees the management of the ODPEM and the activated National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in the event of a national emergency.

Normally, the various committees of the NDE produces and monitors mitigation, prevention and preparedness plans, while the ODPEM implements these plans to include the provision of education, training, and other liaison activities with government organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), public volunteer organizations (PVOs) and the Parish Councils, which are mandated to provide disaster relief at the local level.

General Functions of NDC

The following are the general functions of the NDC:

  • Meet annually to provide policy directives aimed at the protection of life and property in the event of a disaster.
  • Review and monitor the National Strategy for dealing with disasters.
  • Formulate guidelines and assign responsibilities to the National Response Team (NRT).
  • Ensure adequate manpower and physical resources for emergency operations before, during and after a national disaster, while reviewing and evaluating national emergency operations contingency plans.
  • Promote a public awareness programme on disaster preparedness and updating of database on potential disaster areas for effective management.
  • Advise, monitor and supervise the annual work programmes of disaster related activities while coordinating emergency activities of voluntary organizations, both locally and overseas.

The Six Sub Committees of the NDC Roles

The Administration, Finance and the Public Service sub-committee is jointly chaired by the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service (MF&PS) and the ODPEM. It is this Committee’s responsibility to:

  • Properly equip disaster management agencies
  • Ensure adequate staffing of disaster management agencies
  • Fund emergency activities such as the provision of relief assistance
  • Provide assistance in the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC)

The Ministry of Transport and Mining and the ODPEM jointly chair this sub-committee, which is divided into two entities: Damage Assessment and Recovery and Rehabilitation. The Ministry, through the National Works Agency (NWA), oversees the Damage Assessment component while the Recovery and Rehabilitation component is overseen by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

This sub-committee is responsible for:

  • Conducting damage assessment after a disaster
  • Coordinating restoration activities to restore services and institutions after a disaster
  • Providing assistance in the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC)

The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) and the ODPEM jointly chair the Emergency Operations, Communications and Transport sub-committee. It is this sub-committee’s responsibility to do:

  • Rescues and evaluations
  • Law enforcement
  • Establish and maintain communication links
  • Coordinate transportation for emergency response

NDC Committee Continue

The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and the ODPEM jointly chair the Public Information and Education sub-committee. This subcommittee comprises representatives from partner agencies as well as media and communications managers who contribute to the effectiveness of the ODPEM’s various public education programmes. It this sub-committee’s responsibility to:

  • Disseminate disaster management information.
  • Conduct training exercises.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) and the ODPEM jointly chair the Welfare/Shelter and Relief Clearance sub-committee. It is this sub-committee’s responsibility to:

  • Establish and maintain the National Shelter Programme.
  • Coordinate the clearance and distribution of relief supplies.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness chairs this sub-committee along with the ODPEM. It is this sub-committee’s responsibility to coordinate Emergency Health.