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600 young Farmers & Fishers for 21 million JMD gender-sensitive, climate resilience project

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#Jamaica, 15 August 2022 – Jamaica 4-H Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are partnering to strengthen the climate and disaster resilience of 600 young farmers and fishers, in support of national efforts to shore up food security against climate crisis.

Farmers and fishers from select communities in Clarendon, Manchester, St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St Thomas are slated to benefit under a 21.3 million JMD pilot project launched Thursday (11 August) at the Jamaica 4-H Training and Production Centre at Denbigh.

Six hundred will receive awareness building resources on climate smart agriculture and value-added income generating opportunities in their sectors; 175 of the 600 will be trained and certified in crop and livestock production, fisheries, and agro processing; and 110 trained and certified beneficiaries will get venture inputs, technical support, and coaching to support a successful start in business.

In a bid to address gender inequities that typically restrain the full potential of the sector, the project will provide male and female participants with equal access to resources, training and coaching.

The project is being piloted over six months under the EnGenDER project (Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate & Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean) with funding from Global Affairs Canada, and the UK Government.

“It is no secret that our women and young people face great challenges in accessing resources to adapt to climate change. If we are to create a future that ensures agricultural security, as we grow smart and eat smart, our youth must be at the forefront of this drive for food security”, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon Franklin Witter stated.

He said youth inclusion is a priority and reiterated government’s policy decision to direct 20% of government owned lands for lease by young farmers. He said the EnGenDER pilot project will strengthen youth resilience to climate change and help to pull vulnerable groups towards maximizing their true potential.

“Gender Equality is the most effective way to reduce poverty and to build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world”, Canadian High Commissioner Excellency Emma Tudakovic stated in her remarks.  She said the EnGenDER project and its climate change adaptation pilot have provided opportunities to strengthen the integration of gender equality into sectoral planning and implementation processes to strengthen climate resilience.  “It is our hope that with this support, more young persons will become included in these important industries and the project will provide a supportive framework for the ongoing development of the fisheries sector., Ms Tudakovic said.  She emphasized the importance of engaging and encouraging youth to develop solutions to the climate induced challenges faced by the agricultural sector and the need for climate smart agriculture.

Oliver Blake, Head of Jamaica Political and Development Team and Senior Governance Adviser (Caribbean), in the British High Commission underscored the importance of translating global and regional commitments into actionable solutions that touch people on the frontlines of climate change. “Some people round the world have the resources to adapt easily or to move their families and business elsewhere but in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that is not so easy. We know that SIDS did not contribute to climate change, and the first to suffer its effects most immediately. Those first to suffer are those in poorer communities,” Mr Blake underlined.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio called for greater investments in gender sensitive resilience programming to strengthen Jamaica’s climate resilience. “A gender equal approach integrating youth, women, men, Persons with Disabilities, and other groups at risk of being left behind, will maximize the resilience and productivity of Jamaica’s fisheries and agricultural sectors,” she said. Ms Antonio said more young people and more young women should participate in these sectors on a level playing field that affords equal access to capital and support for resilient livelihoods and recovery in the event of a climate-induced disaster.  She charged the participants to pass on what they learned to others. “… absorb the resources of this project, apply, and add value to what you have learned. Innovate new methods of securing your outputs and energizing your business ideas as overcomers of climate change, then come back and teach us what you have learned”, she advised.

Jamaica 4-H Clubs chairman Colin Virgo called climate change and food security the two single greatest threats to humanity and called for action to address the threats. “Let us not wait for us to have another record-breaking year of category five storms (caused by climate change); let us not wait until the world breaks out into war over food. Let us not wait until we cannot feed the population of the world,” he warned.

 

Jamaica 4-H Foundation Director Ronald Blake called for food diversification using resilient plants to strengthen food security, cut wastage while combatting combat climate change.  He said the earth creates 90% of its food from only 20 of approximately 20 000 plant species. “We believe if we are going to fix food security, we have to eat some of the things we are no longer eating. Some of these foods are resilient to the changes to the climate,” he explained.

In Jamaica, only 20% of farmers are young people 18 to 35 years of age, and only 31% of youth farmers are female.  In the fisheries sector, this is further reduced to 5.9% females.

 

Release: UNDP

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Storm Troubles as September heats up late

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

September 27, 2022 – Hurricane Ian moved near the Cayman Islands and was forecast to intensify rapidly and hit Cuba as a major hurricane late on Monday and then strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico before striking the west central coast of Florida on Wednesday.

Now millions in Tampa Bay, Florida are bracing for impact after a hundred year absence of any major storm.

So far, authorities in Cuba have suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and planned evacuations on Monday as Ian gained strength and approach Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. Cuba was also shutting down its train system ahead of the worst weather.

Senior Specialist at the United States National Hurricane Center Daniel Brown told The Associated Press early Monday that “Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane force winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall.”

In the Cayman Islands, members of the government and opposition were working together to ensure that people were made as safe as possible and provided with supplies, plywood, and in some cases sandbags so that they could safely weather the storm, according to Premier Wayne Panton in a video on Sunday.

As of Monday, September 26, most of the customers on the island of Bermuda have received power with just about 200 properties still without electricity.

Last week Hurricane Fiona brought heavy rain and strong winds to the island causing about 29,000 customers, more than 80 per cent of the island’s sole power provider, Bermuda Electric Light Company to be without electricity on Friday morning.

The island has also started its restoration process and announced that it has reopened for business.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, more than a million people in the two countries are still without power and running water after the passing of Hurricane Fiona over the Islands last week.

A growing number of businesses in Puerto Rico, including grocery stores and gas stations, are temporarily closing across the territory as the outages drag on, sparking concern about the availability of fuel and basic goods.

As of Saturday, at least 16 people had died because of Hurricane Fiona, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, which is tracking hurricane-related deaths on the island.

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Utility, Telecoms Companies Prepared for Peak of Atlantic Hurricane Season

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#Kingston, Jamaica, September 27, 2022 – As activity in the tropical Atlantic intensifies, the island’s major utility companies have indicated their preparedness for severe weather conditions.

Hon. Desmond McKenzie

Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Senior Manager, George Kates, said that the company has invested heavily in its disaster-preparedness plans, which were continually developed using many years of lessons.  He said that critical staff and third-party contractors are mobilised and emergency operation centres throughout the island are ready to be activated, when needed.

Additionally, he indicated that in disaster, the JPS maintains contact with the security forces and the National Works Agency (NWA), “because we can recover as fast as they allow us because they have to be ahead of us to clear roads and make way for our team to move”.

“I can comfortably say that the JPS is in an advanced stage of readiness. We are ready to respond to any eventualities,” Mr. Kates assured.

He was addressing a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston on Friday (September 23).

During the meeting, which was convened by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, key private and public-sector entities outlined their state-of-readiness for Tropical Depression Nine, which strengthened into Tropical Storm Ian.

While the country was spared the worst effects of the system, it has since developed into a major hurricane and is expected to impact Cuba and Florida.

National Water Commission (NWC) Chairman, Mark Barnett, in noting the entity’s readiness, said that measures have been put in place to prepare for adverse weather conditions.  He noted that key townships across the island have been equipped with standby generators and that all NWC facilities in deep rural or urban areas will continue to operate “as long as it is safe to do so”.

He pointed out, however, that where the weather becomes severe, some facilities may experience disruptions or may be forced to shut down, especially those that rely heavily on reasonable quality water flow from rivers.

“We are making strides to ensure that we have the necessary infrastructure and necessary capacity in place for responsiveness, knowing very well that we are a [small] island state and we are subject to these events,” Mr. Barnett said.

“All in all, we feel pretty comfortable in terms of our preparedness,” he noted.

As it relates to telecommunications, the island’s two main providers also told the committee meeting that they are ready to face a disaster if one strikes.

FLOW’s Senior Compliance Manager, Keniesha Brown Plunkett, outlined that the company has put 12 disaster plans in place, which allows for response to situations in a timely manner.  She said that using lessons from the past, FLOW has actively trained its coordinators to respond to certain protocols and has identified key personnel in each parish, with the regional crisis management team also on standby if the local team requires assistance.

“We have tested our satellite phones that we have in stock and we’re also happy to say that we are supporting the national disaster programme. We have contributed to vests, we have sourced signs, and we [have helped to] ensure that shelter management programmes are up and running,” Mrs. Brown Plunkett noted.

Some of the challenges experienced by the company that may affect its disaster response include the theft of infrastructure, which includes batteries and copper wires, and damage outside the plant network caused by motor-vehicle accidents.

To mitigate these, the company has activated monitoring and tracking on its devices, sensitised communities to monitor any irregularities, and has undertaken routine assessments. There’s also an environmental management programme in place to manage hazardous waste, said Mrs. Brown Plunkett.  Furthermore, the company’s corporate communications team actively monitors and sends out alerts to the public, in the event of a weather system.

Head of Public Relations, Elon Parkinson, for his part, told the committee meeting that the company had activated its emergency management team to ensure full internal coordination.

“That includes our technical team that ensures that our sites are ready, that our facilities are topped up with fuel, that we have double-checked batteries to ensure complete reliance, that we have coordinated with our partners to make sure that they, too, are ready, that we establish lines of communication around the emergency messages,” Mr. Parkinson said.

He noted that the company had assured its business customers of the lines of communication and the strategies it will be undertaking, to maintain business continuity.

Additionally, the company had activated its social media pages to be used as a ‘community hub’ for information and to convey updates from the Government.

“As we do, we are supporting the overall government of Jamaica’s command and control communication efforts, and those efforts are going to be critical to getting Jamaica back on its feet again [in the event of severe weather],” he said.

The Atlantic Hurricane season runs annually from June 1 to November 30. Mid-August to about mid-October is considered to be the peak of the season when, statistically, the tropical Atlantic becomes the most active, and experiences the most dangerous storms.

 

Contact: Mickella Anderson

Release: JIS

Photo Captions:

Donald De La Haye photos

 

1st insert: Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, addresses a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry’s office in Kingston on Friday (September 23).

2nd insert: National Water Commission (NWC), Chairman, Mark Barnett, addresses a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston on Friday (September 23).

3rd insert: FLOW’s Senior Compliance Manager, Keniesha Brown Plunkett, outlines the company’s disaster preparation plans during a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council on Friday (September 23) at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston.

4th insert: Digicel’s Head of Public Relations, Elon Parkinson, discusses the company’s disaster preparation strategies during a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development’s Hagley Park Road headquarters on Friday (September 23).

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New Firearms Act Passed in The Senate

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#Kingston, Jamaica, September 27, 2022 – The Senate on Friday (September 23) passed the new Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act with 17 amendments.

The legislation establishes a dual regime, distinguishing between prohibited weapons or unregulated firearms and activities connected thereto, and firearms that are duly authorised or registered.

The Bill also outlines the objectives that speak to establishing a framework that prohibits firearms and ammunition that are illicitly traded, and which regards possession of those prohibited firearms and ammunition as the foundation on which other heinous and violent crimes are committed.

Closing the debate, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda said the Bill will issue punishment, in proportionate to the crime.

“For those that have been caught the penalty did not match the crime and this Bill deals with that issue,” he said.

He also noted that the legislation, and its amendments address the strengthening of the operational issues such as those made to clause 101 which speaks to trial, punishment, proof, and records.

In addition, under the new legislation, the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) will be established as a body corporate.

As a body corporate, the Authority will have its own legal identity and will now be empowered to perform several activities, to include entering into contracts in its own name, initiating and responding to legal claims, acquiring real and personal property, and using its own official seal.

The legislation will go back to the House of Representatives for its approval.

 

Contact: Rochelle Williams

Release: JIS

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