[www.inewsguyana.com] – Guyana observed International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) with the main focus on the country’s elderly population under the theme, “Older persons and disasters: resilience for life”.
At the observance ceremony and experimental sharing platform programme conducted by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and UNICEF, at the Ocean View Convention Centre on Monday, October 13, Aggrey Azore, Senior Probation and Social Services Officer said that the initiative of the CDC was most welcome, particularly as internationally, the month of the elderly is also observed.
He said that to include the elderly in such a forum was to take into account that they are a vulnerable population in Guyana and by extension the region and the world at large.
He noted that many times when decisions are to be made about the elderly, they are not given a voice, “so they could articulate their needs, positions and make valuable contributions that could have consequential effects on their lives.”
He also called on able-bodied family members to know their roles and safeguard the elderly should disaster strike. “The old adage of a stitch in time saves nine, and failing to prepare is preparing to fail can be applied in this instance to disaster risk reduction as a means of safeguarding our population and its resources, inclusive of the elderly, a most valuable resource”.
UNICEF’s Representative, Marianne Flach in her remarks noted that emergencies can occur anywhere or time thus it is important to build resilience and protect those most at risk. She said it was essential that in preparing and responding to emergencies, issues such as meeting basic needs, human rights, gender equality, children and the elderly must be considered. She added that with approximately 11% of the world’s population over age 60 years, and estimated to exceed the number of children under 10 years, for the first time in recorded history, planning must consider and build on the elderly’s knowledge and resilience to avoid preventable suffering.
Delivering the feature address, CDC Director General, Chabilall Ramsarup who said the theme, highlights the fact that serious effort must be made to promote more partnerships with older people in disaster risk reduction.
Governments, companies and communities must, he said, include their participation in decision making processes for building disaster resilient communities.
The latter part of the programme saw stakeholders, including the elderly, differently abled and youths interacting, giving their views and suggestions to several panelists. [Extracted and modified from GINA]