The funds, to be disbursed over four years, will be used to purchase and procure equipment and other inputs to implement the ‘Improvement of Emergency Communication System Project’.
A government statement said it was facilitated through negotiations between the government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and will be executed by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
It said the project will provide the platform for communications among critical government agencies, first responders, major stakeholders, auxiliary services and community volunteers.
Finance and the Public Service Minister, Audley Shaw, and Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Masanori Nakano, signed the grant agreement on Thursday, with Shaw saying the project will significantly strengthen ODPEM’s preparedness to respond in the event of natural disasters.
He said the project’s major components include integration of the National Works Agency’s (NWA’s) microwave network for data communication; installation of communication systems that will serve an additional 24 repeater locations, up from the nine stations ODPEM currently operates; and early-warning sirens at 15 locations in three communities.
Additionally, the project will facilitate the provision of radio equipment, transmission and reception devices to key response entities, and placement at two of the island’s key offshore locations – Morant and Pedro Cays.
“The project is critical for the improvement of public security and safety; fire rescue, search and rescue (marine and land) and medical emergencies; evacuation planning, communication and mobilisation; the Local Emergency Operations Centre; and for the improvement of communities and areas prone to flooding, storm surges, landslides and other hazards,” Shaw said.
He said the government continues to “proactively seek opportunities” to promote sustainable economic development and ensure citizen security and safety.
“This objective is in keeping with the Vision 2030 National Development Plan under which Hazard Risk Reduction and Adaptation to Climate Change is a Priority National Outcome with specific focus on strengthening the disaster response capacity of Jamaica.”
Shaw said the government anticipates future partnerships with Japan “in building our capacity in disaster preparedness and responsiveness”.
Nakano said he was confident that the project will significantly enhance Jamaica’s infrastructural capacity and resilience in coping with natural disasters.
He said this would be done through the establishment of an islandwide communication response mechanism “that is expected to be highly effective before, during and after the (occurrence) of a natural disaster”.