National Disaster Coordinator Claricia Langley-Stevens during the media interview session (Spokesman Snap)

By: Precious Mills

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Monday 3rd June 2019) –Deputy National Disaster Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Claricia Langley-Stevens has pointed to the importance of the ongoing partnership with the local media.

Ahead of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, more than 10 media workers from both St.Kitts and Nevis-including managers- participated in a one day stakeholders meeting held on Wednesday 29th May, conducted at NEMA Headquarters located at Lime Kiln in Basseterre.

That session was hosted by NEMA in collaboration with St.Kitts-Nevis Information Services (SKNIS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/ The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA).

In speaking with reporters following the event, Langley-Stevens described the role of the media in relation to disaster management as being “extremely important.”

“I think it is undervalued and only when it is needed, I think that persons recognise that if we do not have the media to be able to relay information from us as an agency maybe we would have some gaps and the response would not be what it should be,” she remarked.

Langley-Stevens further alluded to the 2017 season which featured hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“Additionally though, we recognized in 2017 how critical the media was because there are time when we have information just for knowledge and then there are time when we have information for action. What we want to ensure is that when the media disseminate that they understand which type of message that we’re sending so that we do not create any unnecessary chaos or panic as the case may be and that is important for us especially as we are approaching the hurricane season being on the chain of islands that usually would be impacted.”

She said one of the main objectives was to introduce the media to our National Emergency Response Mechanism and the role that they play in terms of disseminating information and forging a stronger partnership with the agency as the individuals who have the ability to influence action through the dissemination of information…”

According to her: “It was a tremendous success and we’re very happy with the turn out, engagement and of course knowing that everyone will walk away with the common understanding as to how we are to operate and partner with each other.”