The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is playing a major role in building capacity and improving the preparedness of communities across Dominica to deal with emergencies. In January 2019, the IOM launched a 6-week training programme for 31 people in Ham radio operation and emergency communications. Since then, at least 200 more community members have received training as capacity building continues in topics ranging from First Aid, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Fire Safety, Community Emergency Response Training (CERT), Gender-Based Violence, Psychosocial Support and Emergency Shelter Management.
“The objective of the training activities is to ensure that disaster coordinators from the Department of Local Government, Public Health, the Police, Fire Service, Youth Division, and other areas of the public service, active community and grassroots leaders and responders in general apply best practices in responding to community needs before, during and after an emergency. In addition, because emergency shelter is such an important part of disaster response, there is a specific focus on training shelter managers.” – Maxine Alleyne-Esprit, Community Engagement Officer, IOM.
Shelter Managers are key humanitarian volunteers who carry tremendous responsibilities in the disaster management system. The training being offered by IOM with funds from the American people through USAID, builds on previous activities undertaken by the UN migration agency since Hurricane Maria, to assist in meeting the needs of people who are displaced from their homes by natural disasters.
In March of 2018, IOM trained 84 shelter managers, local authorities and government officials on Emergency Shelter guidelines, improved conditions and protection measures. This year, under this Emergency Preparedness project, close to 50 more long-serving and newly recruited shelter managers have received training, building their capacity to support people by emergencies, in line with international principles and standards.
Shelter Managers and Assistant Managers were invited by the Local Government Department through its District Development Officers, from all regions of the island to take part in the Emergency Shelter Management training. The training introduced participatory strategies for managing shelters, the humanitarian principles that should underpin shelter management, and the “emergency Shelter manual” which contains the recently standardised guidelines and tools for Emergency Shelters in Dominica. This manual has been developed by IOM in close collaboration with the Office of Disaster Management (ODM), the Emergency Shelter Subcommittee of the National Emergency Planning Organization (NEPO), the Local Government Department, experienced shelter managers and other key stakeholders.
In this USAID – OFDA funded US$1.25m Emergency Preparedness project, IOM also repaired 16 emergency shelters and is pre-positioning non-food items, household equipment including cots and wheelchairs, safety supplies including first aid kits and fire extinguishers in those emergency shelters.
As the 2019 hurricane season approaches, IOM joins the ODM in urging all residents to be prepared at all times. Dominica is threatened by several natural hazards, including earthquakes and volcanos, floods and tsunamis, which can affect communities much more suddenly as they are characterized by much shorter warning periods than hurricanes. Preparedness is key to saving lives. Visit www.odm.gov.dm for information on hazards that affect Dominica, and the recommended actions before, during and after these events.