CARILEC Examines Unique Pandemic Lessons Learnt at CANTO Hosted Webinar

June 10, 2021 – Castries, St. Lucia: The Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisations hosted a recent episode of its popular ‘CANTO Conversations’ series on the critical topic: ‘Unique Pandemic Lessons to Better Prepare for Multi-Hazards’.

This edifying panel discussion on lessons learnt during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was executed by three (3) highly-competent professionals within the regional disaster management sector, namely: Ms. Elizabeth Riley, Acting Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mrs. Heather Wallen-Bryan, Senior Manager of Business Continuity Management at FLOW Jamaica and Chair of the CANTO Disaster Relief Management (DRM) Committee, and Ms. Karen Piper, Assistant Manager of Communications and Disaster Management at the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC).

While each panelist shared lessons learnt which were unique to their respective organisations, several common best practices emerged from the discussion.  These include the importance of ensuring that disaster management plans are flexible and agile to respond to the fluid and precarious nature of restoration during the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to develop a robust communications plan to ascertain that relevant stakeholders are kept informed with reliable and timely information to propel effective decision making, and the necessity for regional collaboration in disaster management efforts, which is crucial for the sharing of best practices, the efficient use of relevant expertise and specialised coordination.  Also highlighted was the need for the incorporation of mental health and disease management into disaster management planning, given the ongoing pandemic and the possibility of future pandemics.

Ms. Piper provided an in-depth view of the CARILEC Disaster Assistance Program (CDAP) and its recent deployment efforts, particularly in Abaco, Bahamas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, where six (6) utility members deployed crews to assist in power restoration.  She further indicated that the success of CDAP is due to the common value shared among members to provide mutual assistance to each other in times of peril.

Mrs. Wallen-Bryan identified several opportunities which exist for even more comprehensive disaster management planning, which includes the use of emerging technologies in disaster management, such as early warning systems and social media platforms.  Ms. Piper also shared a few systems which regional utilities have relied on for more effective disaster restoration, including geographic information systems (GIS) and incident command systems (ICS).  Ms. Riley informed that CDEMA also utilises GIS in disaster management and recently launched the Caribbean Risk Information System (CRIS), which contains a GIS component, GEOCRIS.  CDEMA is also looking into the use of drones to be deployed into disaster ravaged areas to collect key information through imagery, in cases where individuals might not be able to be deployed physically, such as a COVID-19 hotspot.

Ms. Elizabeth Riley stressed that human rights and ethics needed to be considered in multi-hazard management.  She stated that this consideration has been brought to the forefront as talks on mandatory vaccination have started to surface globally.  She also provided an update on the recovery efforts ongoing in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, following the explosive eruptions at La Soufriere Volcano.  To date, 65 public shelters are open with a total of 2849 persons.  There are also a little over 15,000 persons in private shelters.

CARILEC is pleased to have been part of such a critical conversation and will continue to work towards serving the region in disaster recovery through CDAP and working alongside regional partners such as CDEMA and CANTO.

Access full CANTO Conversation here: Unique Pandemic Lessons to Prepare for Multi Hazards


For further information, contact:

Karen C. Piper

Assistant Manager, Communications & Disaster Management

Mobile Phone: +1 (758) 728 9212

Email: [email protected]


The Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) is an association of energy solution providers and other stakeholders operating in the electricity industry in the Caribbean. CARILEC was established in 1989 with nine (9) members as part of an electric Utilities modernization project funded by USAID and implemented by NRECA under a five-year “Co-operative Agreement.” Currently, CARILEC comprises over one hundred members. This includes thirty-three (33) Full Members that are electric Utilities, and over eighty (80) Independent Power Producers (IPPs), Associate and Affiliate Members that are companies involved in some aspect of servicing the electric Utility business.


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