Government to improve DRM governance, work with IDB on implementation of the Disaster Risk Management Act

Hon. Myles LaRoda

NASSAU, The Bahamas — The Government of The Bahamas has agreed to engage in a Programme with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) — the objective of which is to improve the country’s governance for Disaster Risk Management (DRM), Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Myles LaRoda said Tuesday.

Mr. LaRoda said the specific objectives of the Programme, entitled: Strengthening Disaster Risk Management Governance in The Bahamas,” are to support governance improvements relating to general framework, risk identification, risk reduction, disaster preparedness, recovery planning, and financial protection.

State-Minister La Roda also announced that the Bank has agreed to assist The Bahamas with the implementation of the country’s Disaster Risk Management Act, 2022.  Mr. LaRoda was making his Contribution to the 2023/24 Budget Debate.

The results of a study by the IBD pointed out that The Bahamas had limited legal, institutional, and budgetary conditions to implement effective public policies in disaster risk management, resulting in actions which are not always aligned with best international practices and generally insufficient due to scarce funding, that would benefit from more robust legal mandates,” State-Minister LaRoda told Parliament.

“According to the analysis carried out by the Bank, neither the Disaster Preparedness and Response Act (that established NEMA) nor the Disaster Reconstruction Act (that established the DRA) provided a solid foundation to implement effective public policies in disaster risk management. Despite having some strengths, both Acts combined, still left the country with governance gaps that hinder the efforts to build a more resilient Bahamian society to natural disasters and climate change.”

Mr. LaRoda said the Disaster Risk Management Act, passed by Parliament (December 9, 2022), allows for the establishment of the main legal, institutional and budgetary arrangements for disaster risk management through the Disaster Risk Management Authority.

He said while a commencement date for the DRM Act has not been determined as there are some fundamental elements of the Act that must be put in place before the Disaster Risk Management Authority is launched, officials are working diligently to ensure that fundamental features of the Disaster Risk Management Act are in place to effectively launch the Disaster Risk Management Authority.

“This important process has begun with the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank who has provided several consultancies that are working concurrently on several projects with my Ministry, NEMA, the DRA and other government agencies. Colleagues would be aware that the passage of an Act and its commencement are often not simultaneous. An example is the Public Hospital Authority Act that established the Public Hospital Authority. This Act was passed by Parliament on 6th August 1998 and had a commencement date of 1st July, 1999.”

Mr. LaRoda said the Inter-American Development Bank has agreed to assist The Bahamas with implementation of the Disaster Risk Management Act, 2022. Areas of assistance include an assessment of the institutional capacities of key actors to comply with the mandates established by the new legislation, including a prioritization of actions to strengthen said capacities. This will entail the identification of gaps and short- to medium-term recommendations regarding resources (human, financial, and other) needed to implement DRM Act.

  • Education and engagement of main stakeholders (ministries, departments, agencies and local governments) and the general public on the new DRM Act that will include the design and dissemination of plans through print media, social media, and town hall meetings to familiarize stakeholders with all aspects of the DRM Act. One such engagement is scheduled for June 28 at the Paul Farquharson Conference Center, Police Headquarters, East Street. This activity is also being offered virtually to engage Family Island Administrators and Local Government practitioners.
  • The formulation of a Comprehensive Financial Management Strategy for DRMspearheaded by the Ministry of Finance based on the benchmarking defined for disaster risk reduction. This work will include a determination of which budget to use, how much, who will perform what, by when, and what percentage of risk reduction should be targeted.
  • The development of National Humanitarian Assistance Standards which consider the special needs of persons who are vulnerable on account of their age, gender, disability, poverty, lack of resources or physical displacement, and,
  • The Design of the National Disaster Risk Management Information System, including the system’s structure, administration procedures, data exchange procedures between the system and data generators and public access protocols.

“Madam Speaker, we are working diligently to ensure that fundamental features of the Disaster Risk Management Act are in place to effectively launch the Disaster Risk Management Authority and there is every expectation that we will be ready for the launch before the end of this calendar,” State-Minister LaRoda added.