This document was adapted from a paper originally presented to the 8th Annual Caribbean Conference of Comprehensive Disaster Management, held in Montego Bay, Jamaica in December, 2013. It summarizes several activities that ECLAC has undertaken to assess the current state of information and communications technology (ICT) in the field of disaster risk management (DRM) as practiced in the Caribbean. These activities included an in-depth study that encompassed a survey of disaster management organizations in the region, an Expert Group Meeting attended by the heads of several national disaster offices, and a training workshop for professionals working in DRM in the Caribbean.
One of the notable conclusions of ECLAC’s investigation on this topic is that the lack of human capacity is the single largest constraint that is faced in the implementation of ICT projects for DRM in the Caribbean. In considering strategies to address the challenge of limited human capacity at a regional level, two separate issues are recognized – the need to increase the ICT capabilities of disaster management professionals, and the need to make ICT specialists available to disaster management organizations to advise and assist in the implementation of technology-focused projects.
To that end, two models are proposed to engage with this issue at a regional level. The first entails the establishment of a network of ICT trainers in the Caribbean to help DRM staff develop a strategic understanding of how technology can be used to further their organizational goals. The second is the development of “Centres of Excellence” for ICT in the Caribbean, which would enable the deployment of specialized ICT expertise to national disaster management offices on a project-by-project basis.