Emergency Preparedness and Response
UNICEF’s mandate commits it to ensure special protection for the most disadvantaged children – those who are victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation.
While children in emergency situations have the same needs and rights as children in stable situations, the vulnerability of children in emergencies increases significantly. Emergency preparedness activities are an integral part of the Policy, Advocacy, Special Care and Protection programme.
UNICEF Jamaica’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan envisages three major threats and risks which could produce emergency related scenarios:
1. Natural disasters
UNICEF Jamaica’s Response to Emergencies in Jamaica
UNICEF Jamaica’s response covers both aspects of preparedness and response, in support of national efforts led by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Response (ODPEM). UNICEF’s response:
*Recognises the priority of humanitarian action while assuring safe access to affected populations and safety and security of staff and assets
*Builds on existing activities and partnerships developed through the country programme of cooperation.
*Is based on nationally defined priorities and UNICEF’s comparative advantage.
After the passage of Hurricanes Dennis and Emily in July 2005 UNICEF partnered with the Jamaican Red Cross (http://www.jamaicaredcross.org/), as well as with partners in Portland, St. Catherine and Clarendon to get first-hand information on the number of children affected and their most urgent needs. UNICEF Jamaica procured and delivered necessary food and drink for 500 families (approximately 1,500 children) who were in 65 shelters in the most affected parishes/regions of the island.
Two activities which UNICEF has undertaken, in collaboration with local partners, to enhance preparedness and protect Jamaican children during emergencies are:
1. The development and dissemination of “Guidelines for Child-Friendly Disaster Management and Response” in cooperation with ODEPM. The aim of the publication is to guide planners and implementers in preparing for and responding to an emergency, taking into consideration the needs of children in emergency situations. It is based on UNICEF’s Core Commitments and SPHERE standards and covers areas such as Health, Water and Sanitation, Food and Nutrition, Shelter, Education, Child Protection and Psycho-Social Support.
The guidelines were developed by a committee of stakeholders including the Child Development Agency, the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the Salvation Army and NGOs 3D Projects and Children First. The booklet was published in partnership with the national disaster response and management agency, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). The guidelines were officially launched on June 1, the start of the annual hurricane season.
2. The School Emergency Response Capacity Building Project. It aims to strengthen the capacity of 30 schools and their surrounding communities to protect children during emergencies. The project led by ODPEM and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, is being implemented between June 2005 and December 2006.
Major activities under the project are:
- the development of emergency preparedness and response plans by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture and 30 schools;
- training of staff members from the 30 schools and community members in shelter management, vulnerability and capacity assessment, first aid, basic disaster management and developing hazard maps
- developing a system of communication between the Education Ministry, schools, communities and the ODPEM in emergency situations
- establishing Community Emergency Response Teams in the 30 communities where project schools are located
- packaging and storage of 1000 child friendly emergency kits at ODPEM’s national and regional stores
- developing educational materials on emergency preparedness and response including disaster preparedness video and workbook