The Belize Red Cross has been offering assistance in times of disaster by deploying its volunteers to affected areas. With the hurricane season already upon us, the Belize Red Cross is making the necessary preparations in case of a disaster. Fred Hunter Jr., the Focal Point for Disaster at the Belize Red Cross spoke with Love News about the preparations.
Fred Hunter Jr. – Focal Point for Disaster, Belize Red Cross: “We have this program where we form teams, right now we are working in 16 communities in rural Belize in the northern part of rural Belize including Caye Caulker and the community volunteers that we train in communications and awareness, what is a disaster, how to prepare the community if they need to evacuate. We assist also the community itself, we promote what we call our family emergency plan that we have a booklet that we give out and we also explain how to use the booklet. We’ve already done 59 communities before we are doing 16 more right now- we are approaching close to the 200 plus communities that exist in Belize.”
Climate change is another threat that can disrupt lives and the Belize Red Cross works with the community to help them adapt to climate change.
Fred Hunter Jr. – Focal Point for Disaster, Belize Red Cross: “It’s what we call climate change adaptation because of the changes in climate taking place there’s been shifts in the rainy weather, the dry weather and we realize that people’s lifestyles need to change as well. Part of this because it’s, NEMO has it in their thing ‘protective lives and livelihoods.’ we look at the livelihoods part of disaster response as critical because after a hurricane and that is the question that we ask at all our meetings the day after the hurricane who still has a job? Who still has a livelihood? Who can still survive? Those are things we promote that people need to look at in their daily lives and part of that comes from adapting to climatic changes. So it’s anything that the community can do to adapt to prepare whether it is for a storm or a drought or a shift in weather patterns throughout the year like changing your calendar it might mean not doing anything different just doing it at a different time in the year. Some of the farmers have been changing and using irrigation or different areas to do their farming in the dry season and in the rainy season to either change locations or change the style of technique of farming because at that time they have to contend with excessive water, they get all the water at a different time- so their whole lifestyle and the timing of what they do has to change for them to be able to survive otherwise they’ll end up being disaster victims as well.”
The Belize Red Cross has volunteers in its eight branches.