On Thursday 22 July 2021, the Local Government Department, Portsmouth Town Council and the Northern District Disaster Management Committee (NDMC), welcomed Councillors, Clerks, and members of the community-based disaster management committees in the northern district, to a workshop on “Including Migrants in Community-Based Disaster Management & Emergency Communications”. The workshop was held in the context of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season, multiple hazards that can endanger the lives of all people in Dominica at any time, and the significant number of non-nationals living and working in the northern communities. The activity was facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Dominica office in collaboration with the Local Government Department.
The objective of the workshop was to strengthen the capacities of Local Government and Community-Based Disaster Managers to anticipate, prepare for and respond to migration flows relating to emergencies and crises, using the guidelines, principles and practices developed under the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) initiative. Communications Assistant at IOM, and lead facilitator at the workshop, Maxine Alleyne-Esprit explained: “Our objectives were really to highlight the unique needs of migrants in disaster management, so for instance if you are communicating with or planning for safety of migrants before, during and after disasters, there are certain things that need to be adapted; service provision, your communications messages an channels, have to be adapted. So today was really a very interactive workshop that looked at some of the examples that have been gathered as part of the MICIC Initiative, looking at how different countries have dealt with some of these issues, and we put it into a local context and got the participants to consider what they would do, so they could go back into their communities and try to implement some of the guidelines based on the principles of humanitarian action.”
Participants in the workshop were able to identify practical actions that they could implement to better integrate migrants in the disaster preparedness and response in their communities, recognizing that this would contribute to more resilient communities. Caryl Baron, Disaster Coordinator for the Savanne-Paille, Tan Tan area explainED “What I would implement right now is going out into my community and looking out for the migrants that are there, getting them together, and adding them to the disaster management committee.”
The workshop was implemented under the Western Hemisphere Program (WHP) which aims to improve migration management in the regions of Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, to reduce irregular migration flows and migrants’ vulnerabilities, while combatting the efforts of trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling networks. Since 2019, this program has been implemented in Dominica by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), thanks to generous support from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).
The WHP will soon be entering Phase III in Dominica, with activities that will build on some of the gaps identified through the first two phases. The team at IOM remains committed to supporting the Government of Dominica towards achievement of the resilience targets contained within Dominica’s Climate Resilient Recovery Plan and advancing its contribution towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.