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Disaster management stakeholders get training on impact of volcanic ash

Disaster management stakeholders get training on impact of volcanic ash

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Persons with the direct responsibility of responding to disasters in the region, specifically volcanic eruptions, should now be more capable of doing so after a three-day science meeting held here.

The meeting, dubbed the Caribbean Ash Hazard and Impact Workshop, was hosted locally by the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), {{more}}in collaboration with the Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas (STREVA) Project of the University of East Anglia (UK) and the Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop on Tuesday at the conference room of the Paradise Beach Hotel in Villa, Dr Richard Robertson of the SRC said that the workshop is part of the STREVA project, which is a research project that is attempting to look at natural disasters.

He added that this specific workshop focuses on volcanic ash and comes out of another project that is looking at ways to mitigate some of the problems we have in the region as it relates to national disasters.

He said that they are attempting to gather information by collaborating with external agencies to better understand the (disasters) systems that we have to deal with, as we live in a part of the world that is exposed to certain types of hazards.

“What we are striving to do is to make sure that the information that we know gets to the people who have to make decisions and one of the objectives of the workshop is to help to do that, to provide you with information that is useful and also work through a scenario that would help you use that information and actually think about how to use it and what information that you need,” said Dr Robertson.

During the workshop, the participants, who came from various local organizations and also regional entities, were given a scenario focused on the likely future eruption of La Soufriere. The scenario explored preparedness, response and recovery from volcanic ash both in SVG and around the region. The scenario was facilitated by Dr Anna Hicks of the University of East Anglia (UK).

Dr Robertson said that the scenario helps to provide information and package it in a useful way.

During the workshop, international experts and representatives from regional and local agencies like NEMO, the Central Water and Sewage Authority (CWSA), the East Caribbean Aviation Authority, the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Organisation (CDEMA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI) and the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre (DRRC) of the University of the West Indies also looked at various approaches and models in understanding how volcanic ash is dispersed and how it impacts on the environment and infrastructure.

The workshop also heard from Professor Jenni Barclay of the University of East Anglia (UK), who shared information about ash hazards and their potential impacts.

She said that the workshop was not just about understanding a volcanic eruption, but also about reducing the negative consequences.

“We recognize that in order to reduce negative consequences it is ok for us to sit back in our UK universities, but we are not going to actually do anything sensible unless we come here and talk to the people and understand what the problems are,” said Barclay.

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