The Cabinet of Dominica has approved the implementation of the National Emergency Telecommunications plan to establish a cohesive harmonized structure for emergency communication on the island.
In a statement earlier this week, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Telecommunications and Broadcasting, Senator Oscar George said the plan was developed to ensure efficiency in emergency communication in the aftermath of any natural disaster.
“Government conducted a multi-sectoral consultation in April 2021 to consider issues related to mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery as the basis for informing the plan,” he stated.
George said participants included the office of disaster management, telecoms service providers’ utility companies, amateur radio providers, shipping agencies and other private and public sector entities.
“The implementation of the plan will involve the formalization of legislation for disaster risk management; the comprehensive disaster management bill will incorporate provisions of the Tampere Convention, a United Nations (UN) Treaty signed by Dominica in 2000,” he said.
The minister explained that the Tampere Convention calls on states to facilitate the provision of prompt communications and assistance to mitigate the impact of a disaster.
The National Disaster Plan will be updated to improve coordination among relevant actors involved in disaster risk management and emergency response communications.
He said the Office of Disaster Management and other agencies which form the National Emergency Planning Organization (NEPO) will fast track the adoption of a comprehensive disaster management framework, maintain updated hazard maps for all hazards and provide information on the most vulnerable disaster prone communities in Dominica.
“Other action items include the updating of the network inventory and coverage of mobile and fixed telecom providers, radio and television broadcasting and the adoption of an alternative telecoms and ICT infrastructure, such as satellite services and devices for voice and broadband communications,” he stated.
George went on to state that the Government of Dominica will coordinate with the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) member-states to develop specific regulations for the telecommunications and ICT sector, “regarding disaster risk management and update standard operating procedures for the emergency and disaster response related communication.”
The telecommunications minister also indicated that Dominica will enhance surveillance and monitoring systems for probable threats prior to the occurrence of disasters and emergencies.
“Furthermore, telecommunications training and drills for emergencies will be conducted to enhance policies and plans and procedures governing the use of communication networks,” he noted.
George continued, “The implementation plan also considers the establishment of call centres to warn affected populations of new risks; disseminate updates and connect affected citizens to relatives as well as the development of emergency operation centres to provide critical communication during the response phase of a disaster.”
He thanked the International Telecommunications Union and the World Bank for partnering with Dominica to undertake this extensive exercise.