By the end of this week, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) will know whether its National Disaster Management Programme (NDMP), led by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), has met the required standards and can be considered for accreditation from the United States based Emergency Management Accreditation Programme (EMAP).
An eight person team, comprising members of the EMAP Technical Committee is currently in the Territory to evaluate the NDMP against the 64 EMAP standards and determine whether the Territory has achieved the requirements for conditional or full accreditation.
EMAP Executive Director, Ms. Nicole Ishmael explained that EMAP seeks to foster “excellence and accountability in emergency management and homeland security programmes, by establishing credible standards applied in a peer review accreditation process. The vision of EMAP is to ensure safer communities through measurable standards of excellence for emergency management programmes.”
EMAP Team Leader, Ms. Karen Windon commended the BVI for its leadership role in seeking the voluntary accreditation.
“It is impressive that the BVI is the first among its peers to seek the EMAP accreditation which has been proven internationally to enhance disaster management programmes as well as ensure continuity and consistency in operation,” Ms. Windon stated.
DDM Director, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo welcomed the voluntary assessment, noting that the process has been an enlightening one which has given greater insight into the extensive work, time, effort and commitment invested by the Government since the late 1970s in advancing the disaster management programme in the BVI.
“There have been significant investments made by past and current leaders to ensure the sustainability of the programme is maintained. It is important to also recognise the invaluable contribution made by Mr. Elton Georges who worked at the helm of the department for several years, providing astute guidance since the programme was formally established in 1983,” Ms Da Breo stated.
Examining the contextual background of the accreditation, the DDM Director said that there has been a close link between the vision of EMAP and the vision of the current Virgin Islands Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy and Programming Framework, which is to achieve a SMART footprint by working towards resilience and safeguarding lives, livelihoods and the sustainable development of the Virgin Islands.
Ms. DaBreo further stated, “We are hoping for full accreditation but if we are unable to receive it, we would still benefit from the thorough review and the many lessons learnt which will in turn create for us a road map to chart the path to where we need to be.”
Prior to this week’s accreditation review, four persons in the BVI, inclusive of DDM staff, Health Disaster Coordinator, Dr. Ronald Georges and Chief Planner, Mr. Gregory Adams received training through support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to undertake the self-assessment process. The FCO has also generously covered all costs associated with the accreditation process, an offer which has been extended to all British Overseas Territories.
Following the assessment, the review committee will present a report on its findings to the EMAP Commission and a decision on accreditation will be made within 60 days. Should the BVI receive accreditation, it will join the 24 states in the USA that have already received the full accreditation as well as the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Virginia Tech University. The accreditation is valid for five years.
Contact: Philomena Robertson
Information & Education Manager
Department of Disaster Management
Telephone: 468-4200 ext. 4199