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Southern Belize Communities undergo training for natural disasters and climate change

Posted June 29th 2016, 3:41 p.m

PADFBy BBN Staff: The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) has concluded the Community Preparedness and Resilience initiative that was launched in July 2015.

Through the program, over 14, 000 residents of Stann Creek District were assisted in preparing for and responding to disasters and climate change adaptation.

Through the initiative, PADF trained and equipped local emergency response teams in Dangriga and Hopkins, engaged students and teachers at seven schools with programs on climate change and disaster risk reduction, launched eight public awareness campaigns aimed at protecting fragile ecosystems, created hazard maps, flood gauges and strengthened early warning systems in each community, partnered with the University of Belize to expand its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Center and engage students in field work, and is also collaborating with Hamanasi Adventure Dive Resort to plant mangrove trees to mitigate coastal erosion.

PADF also partnered with the University of Belize on a course on global positioning system tracking and mapping. UB also received thousands of dollars’ worth of technical equipment, tools and software to build the GIS Center. Under the project, PADF reports that using the software the team “was able to map vulnerable areas of coastline and create hazard maps listing evacuation routes.”

In a release, Natural Resource Management student at UB, Veronica Escalante is quoted as saying, “The hazard maps produced as a result of our data collection help make decisions and plan support systems to mitigate disaster that may occur in highly vulnerable coastal areas. It has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience.”

According to the PADF, as a low lying coastal nation Belize is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change adding that “Rising sea levels, erosion, flooding and the degradation of valuable marine environments threaten local residents, as well as ecosystems that many Belizeans rely on for their livelihoods in the fishing and tourism industries.”

Taiwan Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Benjamin Ho said “we must all prepare for climate change…we are pleased that this partnership between Taiwan, PADF and Belize has given coastal communities a head start.”

PADF and Taiwan have been collaborating with countries throughout the region to address emergencies and natural disasters. Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been part of the initiative as well. The Taiwan-PADF Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Fund is a five-year partnership to foster preparedness and mitigation programs and so far has assisted more than 282,000 people in Latin America & the Caribbean since 2012.

The year-long program is funded by Taiwan and implemented by the PADF.

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