Logo of the DMCA

The newly-minted Dominica Media and Communications Association (DMCA) has pledged its support in getting the message out on the need to build back stronger after the ravages of Hurricane Maria.

President of the organization, Garvin Richards, said the role of the media in the entire process of making Dominica the first climate resilient nation in the world, an idea formulated by the government, cannot be underestimated.

“On behalf of media workers in Dominica I would like to pledge our support in assisting the government in getting its message out, of the need to build back better with more resilience to combat the impact of climate change,” he said. “The impact of climate change has called for a new approach as to how the media must operate. In this resiliency campaign, the media must continue to champion the cause, and remind the public of the importance of building back the right way.”

He said there must be a continious partnership with various stakeholders to get the information out.

“The phrase climate resilient country must become a household phrase if this campaign is to be successful and the media must play an integral role in that process,” he stated.

He said with the frequency of severe weather events “our very existence now depends on being able to improve on our resiliency.”

“I say this for we can only get so much assistance for so long from our good friends in the international community,” Richards stated.  “So, for the media to play its role in building this first climate resilient nation, the media itself must address its shortfalls and become resilient itself.”

He stated that in time of national crisis, the media is counted on to relay information locally and globally but it must possess the required tools and training to do so.

“No longer can we depend on simple internet, cellular or radio connections, for they have proven to be unreliable in the immediate aftermath of a disaster,” Richards stated. “Investments need to be made in technology which will not be impacted by disasters. Satellite Phones, and even to a certain extent ham operated radios which can be easily stored away before a storm have now become a necessity.”

He pointed to the correct training and argued that media personnel should have basic training in the field of meteorology or geography and other aspects of disaster management.

“Weather monitoring and forecasting are clearly essential components of an early warning system for hurricanes,” he noted. “Accurate weather monitoring and early warning allow for timely preparation and implementation of a safe evacuation.”

Richards said health care “is critical aspect following a disaster, and again it’s another area where the media has to up its game before, and after a storm.”

“After the storm, the media’s role in relaying information on Emergency operations plans should take into consideration the priority public health needs which most often include at-risk population evacuation and provision of adequate shelter, as well as food, water, sanitation, and healthcare,” he noted.