A consultation for public awareness focal points from various departments with the mandate to implement the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP) initiatives, was held on January 22, 2018, at the Finance Administration Building. The gathering was purposed to impress upon representatives, the urgent need to take ownership in collaboration with the Communications Officer, to inform the public on the activities—hard and soft—which have been implemented via the DVRP and moreso, to inform on how the citizenry is practically benefiting from the said projects. Correspondingly, the forum sought to prioritize public awareness efforts going forward.
The Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project, aims to significantly reduce vulnerability to natural hazards and to the adverse impacts of climate change in Saint Lucia.
The enormousness of the infrastructural and other works to be undertaken under the DVRP, is unprecedented, and every Saint Lucian stands to benefit.
Rightfully so, the DVRP gives special emphasis to Public Education and Outreach, with the key objective of empowering the general public to take meaningful action to build resilience to natural and climate-related disasters.
The overall goal of the Public Education and Awareness Strategy, is to engender a sense of collective and individual responsibility for climate change among the general public, which will result in meaningful and effective individual and collective response and action, with respect to adapting to climate change.
Indeed, the Report on Social Assessment and Resettlement Policy Framework generated by the Government in 2013, emphasizes that raising awareness of climate change issues among students, residents, businesses and commuters, among others, will complement the social development outcomes of the DVRP, as this is integral to strategies aimed at poverty reduction in communities.
Whilst a wide cross-section of the public has been reached since the launch of the DVRP, communicating public awareness on critical matters cannot be overdone.
Representatives of departments with implementation responsibilities were sensitized to the utmost significance of sensitizing the public on the varied initiatives emanating from the DVRP, as well as to continue to provide critical information on how the citizenry is pragmatically reaping the rewards from projects thus far implemented.
In delivering welcome remarks, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Department of Sustainable Development, Silka Tobias, urged the participants “to take ownership of and to give support to public awareness initiatives particularly considering the time left before the Project comes to an end.”
Cheryl Mathurin, Project Coordinator, in the Project Coordinating Unit, emphasized the need for all implementing agencies to sing from the same song sheet: “We must see ourselves as one unit,” she remarked. “We are quite aware that much has been achieved since the launch of the DVRP. When otherwise is heard, it is your responsibility to point to the obvious evidence that proves, that whilst some delays exist, there is much to be applauded.”
The consultation was hailed as being timely. Participants expressed great satisfaction with the information garnered and pledged to play their part in ensuring that public outreach is given priority.
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