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Aug 10, 2011

Red Cross’ risk reduction project

June to November, that’s the hurricane season which experts say will be active this year in the region. While we have been spared so far, Haiti, which is still recovering from previous disasters, was battered by Tropical Storm Emily last week. The Belize Red Cross is currently conducting a risk reduction project for a number of entities to minimize loss of life and damage to property. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

A wide cross-section of organizations and individuals are participating in an introductory workshop for a Risk Reduction Project by the Belize Red Cross. The main objective is to reduce the casualties and loss of property that may result from natural disasters. Red Cross Director General, Lily Bowman, says it’s a shift of focus from the rural communities, to urban areas.

Lily Bowman, Director General, Belize Red Cross

Lily Bowman

“This is an exciting time for us where we will be doing changes because we’ll have to look at the tools we have used that were successful in rural communities and now adapt them in the urban setting and, of course, introducing new tools that will be developed through this project. The project is a pilot for only Belize City right now and hopefully later on we will be able to expand to different areas in Belize City and other urban towns throughout the country. Disaster Risk Reduction: it’s going to be looking at baselines; what exists within the city where vulnerabilities are concerned, what exists where capacities are concerned, what we have to work with to mitigate the different risks to natural events like hurricanes, floods which are the common ones in Belize.”

The destruction caused by last year’s Hurricane Richard, drew attention to the need for the risk reduction training in Belize City, which will also help residents in vulnerable areas to help themselves.

Lily Bowman

“We will be presenting the elements of disaster risk reduction, so the concept in its entirety. We will be talking about vulnerability and capacity assessments. We’ll be talking about climate change and we will be introducing to them also the protective school program also that will be introduced to four schools in the Southside of Belize City.”

Delahnie Bain

“So it will now extend to include students?”

Lily Bowman

“We have a new program that we’ve been implementing in the rural communities and we’ve just finished working with fourteen schools; seven in the Cayo District, seven in the River Valley and the protected school program works with parents, students and teachers and we build brigades. We teach them all the elements of risk reduction and it’s a multi-hazard approach. We teach them how to respond to the natural events that pose disasters after.”

The initial phase of the pilot project runs until the end of 2011, but if it is successful, it may be extended up to three years.

Lily Bowman

“Today we’re hoping to achieve a design as to how we will move from here to implement this pilot project. We also need commitment from all these partners, because without them we really cannot be successful; we cannot go out there and work on our own.  We are already looking at the possibility, if this pilot works, to get funding for the next three years. Our funders of course for this pilot project are through the Norwegian Red Cross, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We’re also working on follow up activities for previous work carried out in Toledo and Stann Creek.”

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The Belize City Council Management Organization (CEMO) is expected to be a key player in the implementation of the Risk Reduction Project.

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