Westmoreland groups get training, equipment to fight vector-borne diseases

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MORE than 25 residents in three Westmoreland communities have been given tools and digital equipment to help them fight vector-borne diseases and apply geographic information systems (GIS) technology to support mapping of disaster risks and climate change impacts.

The Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF) of the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) presented tablet computers and toolkits, which include power drills, saws, hammers and GIS mapping equipment, to the residents.

The recipients had recently participated in a training series on ecosystem-based livelihood approaches, which was held under the municipal corporation’s ‘Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction Technology and Strategies to Improve Community Resilience’ (CARTS) project, funded by the CDRRF.

A release said residents from Russia, New Market Oval and Llandilo (Phase 1) were trained in GIS mapping, small business management, and vector control strategies, including insect screen construction.

Denton Campbell, of Russia in Savanna-la-Mar, said the tools will bring him closer to self-development through entrepreneurship.

“The programme can create employment and that is one of our biggest problems in Russia, so I decided to participate to help others. Eight of us in the programme formed a group [and] are pursuing a business in insect screen and mesh covers for [water] drums. We have already presented our business plan to a member of the Social Development Commission (SDC) and it was well received,” said Campbell, adding that he would educate fellow residents of Russia to better understand the importance of putting measures in place to prevent or, at the bare minimum, stem the tide of vector-borne diseases.

At the toolkit presentation the trainees also received certificates from the two-month-long, ecosystem-based enhancement livelihood pilot training programme.

“I really want to thank you for participating, and I’d also like to congratulate you because you have finished the programme in order to get your certificate… here today,” said Savanna-la-Mar Mayor Bertel Moore.

CARTS Project Manager Shadae Allen explained that the pilot formed part of the municipal council’s local sustainable development plan.

She said the integrated vector aide component was meant to “equip the residents of the community or the training participants with the necessary skills to adapt or to help eliminate or reduce the risk of any kind of vector-borne diseases”. The programme covered construction of insect screens for doors and windows, mesh covers for water containers, as well as small business management.

It also provided the graduates with the practical know-how and business acumen to pursue entrepreneurship.

The GIS component, meanwhile, taught participants how to use demarcation technology to record and log real-time data for future reference. The programme’s socio-geographical community awareness training paired coordinate-tracking and geo-mapping applications to obtain and convert data, which will then be used to inform sustainability decisions across vulnerable localities.

Graduate of the GIS programme, Clayton Parchment was eager to put his new skills into practise. He explained that the GIS training, developed jointly by HEART/NSTA Trust and The University of the West Indies, uses precise geospatial mapping technologies to generate, collect, log, and record disaster-related data in real time, which data is then sent to a central server for reference.

The tablets which the trainees received, complete with mapping applications, are expected to help with disaster recovery and response.

“We’ve actually trained some persons in initial damage assessment to assist with the response effort of disasters,” Allen said, adding that CARTS will enlist the assistance of the GIS graduates for upcoming land-use survey data collection in the parish.

According to Grace Whittley, director of planning at the WMC, the project sought to enhance citizen-centred community engagement and development.

“We wanted to involve the community, having a bottom-up approach, allowing the community to phase into the project, giving their ideas and participating,” Whittley said, adding that localised collaboration paired with GIS technological resources are integral to efficiently gathering information.

The ecosystem-based livelihood enhancement training programme is one output of the CARTS project. The others are the preparation of a flood-control master plan for Savanna-la-Mar, the design and installation of an early warning system for flooding, a recently completed shelter management and initial damage assessment training course, and the formation of a community emergency response team.

Allen indicated that they should significantly improve disaster responsiveness in the parish going forward.

The CDRRF is a multi-donor trust fund financed with grant resources from Global Affairs Canada and the European Union. It was established by the Caribbean Development Bank in 2012 to finance disaster risk reduction and/or climate change adaptation, and gender-responsive initiatives at the community level. The fund has eight sub-projects under implementation in Belize, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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