Photo: GEF SGP Trinidad and Tobago

GEF SGP and Digicel Foundation Trinidad and Tobago

Over 2015 to 2017 with funding from Aus Aid and in partnership with the GEF Small Grants Programme at UNDP, the Digicel Foundation embarked on a capacity building and infrastructural upgrade programme called “Preparing You!- A Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Evacuation Pilot Project for persons with special needs”.

The Project developed resilience within the special needs population by embracing a Private Public Partnership (PPP) approach. These partnerships engaged the National Disaster Offices and other public agencies, including the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) in Trinidad, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) in Tobago, the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service (TTFS) and relevant Disaster Management Units (DMUs) of the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government.

This life changing intervention has been a critical step in the climate change adaptation for persons with special needs in keeping with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Sendai Framework.

The main objectives of the Project were:

-To partner with the National Disaster Management Agencies, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to prepare and certify special needs teachers/caregivers in Disaster Preparedness and Evacuation strategies over a five-day workshop.

-To have these trained special needs caregivers then train persons with special needs, in disaster preparedness and emergency evacuation over a 3-month intervention period.  

-To equip special schools with disaster preparedness skills and emergency evacuation planning tools. 

-To create a database of persons with special needs for Emergency SMS broadcast through the ODPM warning system create a Disaster Preparedness Instructional Videos for persons with special needs.

-To revise the ODPM’s national handbook on disaster preparedness to include persons with intellectual disabilities.

The project conducted Vulnerability Reduction Assessments (VRAs) used a three-phased structured approach for training persons with special needs and their caregivers in disaster management, implementing standardized building upgrades, providing life safety equipment and producing informational videos that can be utilized by this marginalized group.

Results To date:

50 teachers and caregivers and 350 persons with special needs have been trained in disaster preparedness and climate change adaptations.

The facilities and buildings at 8 special needs schools have been upgraded and modified to include emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, emergency alarms, emergency lighting and signage.

2 project videos, 4 hazard instructional videos, 1 blog and 5 posters have been created and circulated.

The OPDM has revised their databases and manuals to include persons with intellectual disabilities.Partnership has been strengthened among practitioners in the field of disaster preparedness and special needs including key state agencies such as the ODPM, TEMA and the Ministry of Local Government.

Project Beneficiaries:

-Rio Claro Special School

-Pointe-a-Pierre Government Special School

-Happy Venture- San Fernando

-Lady Hochoy School Penal

-Lady Hochoy School Gasparillo

-The Tobago School for the Deaf

-Enaamie’s School for Special Children ‐ Diego Martin

-Aspirare Learning Community ‐ San Fernando



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