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IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

 

WASHINGTON, Jun. 20,   CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched a call for proposals that will reward the most disruptive ventures in Latin America and the Caribbean that are using innovation to improve lives.

The Washington-based financial institution said the selected startups will participate in Demand Solutions Chile, which will take place on November 21 in Santiago, Chile.

Demand Solutions is the IDB’s flagship innovation event that brings together “the world’s most forward-thinking minds to share creative solutions to the development challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the statement said.

In this edition, the IDB said startups can participate in two thematic areas.

In the first, they must provide solutions in four categories related to the cultural and creative industries: Design with social sense: sustainable fashion, smart fashion, urban art, wearable technology; and multimedia that improves lives: videogames, digital content, audiovisual content.

The other categories are: New technologies: 3D printing, blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics; and export of services to global markets: production and commercialization of cultural content, export of goods and creative services.

The IDB said the 10 most innovative startups in the creative industries will be selected to participate in Demand Solutions Chile with all expenses paid for one representative per startup.

The first place will receive financial support to continue with its development, the IDB said.

Additionally, the IDB said this edition of Demand Solutions will also reward five startups that provide solutions to water and sanitation challenges in the region.

Since 2009, the IDB said along with Fundación FEMSA it was awarded the Water and Sanitation Prize for Latin America and the Caribbean “to recognize and stimulate the most innovative solutions in the water, sanitation and solid waste sectors.”

The startups interested in participating in Demand Solutions must present a solution proposal to a development challenge before July 15, the IDB said.

It said the representatives must be over 18 years old.

Winners will be notified by mail in early September 2018.

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CARICOM countries to benefit from new Mexico-FAO initiative

CARICOM countries to benefit from new Mexico-FAO initiative

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jun 15, CMC – At least 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will design multiple projects to mobilize resources from international sources allowing them to improve the resilience and adaptation of their agriculture, food systems and rural communities to change climate.

The projects will be funded under a new initiative created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID).

FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Luis Videgaray, signed the agreement that creates the fund with an initial budget of US$500,000.

They said that the money will be used as a pre-investment resources that will mobilize millions of dollars for resilience and adaptation projects.

“Thanks to the support of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, 14 CARICOM countries will design 27 projects to mobilize resources against climate change,” said the FAO Director General.

“We all know that the Caribbean is one of the region’s most vulnerable to climate change. We saw it in the last hurricane season, when the islands of Dominica and Barbuda were practically destroyed,” said Videgaray during the signing agreement in Rome.

The countries that will develop the projects are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Ten of the projects will be presented to the Green Climate Fund, 12 to the Global Environment Facility and five to various European Union mechanisms. They will focus on vulnerable rural communities facing climate risks.

The fund between Mexico and FAO will also support CARICOM countries develop their institutional and technical capacities for planning, decision-making and project management, to enable them to better cope with natural disasters and extreme weather events, the FAO said.

Mexican experts and specialists from FAO will work side-by-side with their Caribbean counterparts in the design and implementation of the projects.

“The fund is a combination of financial resources and human resources,” Videgaray said.

Both the FAO and Mexico say building resilience requires improving the quality of infrastructure through actions such as rectification and strengthening of river channels and burying power lines, but these are expensive investments and the Caribbean countries do not always have the necessary capital to implement them.

“That’s where international funds come in. This initiative from Mexico and FAO will allow countries to obtain much needed resources that are currently available but that many times Caribbean countries cannot access, because their projects have to improve from a technical standpoint,” Videgaray said.

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico explained that the fund signed between FAO and Mexico is an agreement open to other countries.

“We already have the good news that the government of Canada is going to come on board with resources. And this is key because the challenge is enormous. We must recognize that the Caribbean is not generating climate change but that it is one of the most affected regions, so we all have the responsibility to contribute, ” Videgaray added.

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Caribbean’s ability to address climate risks boosted by increase in funds

Caribbean’s ability to address climate risks boosted by increase in funds

WASHINGTON, Jun. 17, CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says an increase of more than 20 per cent from the previous year by the world’s six largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) has boosted projects that help the Caribbean and other developing countries cut emissions and address climate risks.

The Washington-based financial institution said climate financing by the MDBs rose to a seven-year high of US$35.2 billion in 2017, up more than 20 per cent from the previous year.

The MDBs’ latest joint report on climate financing said US$27.9 billion, or 79 per cent of the 2017 total, was devoted to climate mitigation projects that aim to reduce harmful emissions and slow down global warming.

The remaining 21 per cent or US$7.4 billion of financing for emerging and developing nations was invested in climate adaptation projects that help economies deal with the effects of climate change, such as unusual levels of rain, worsening droughts and extreme weather events, the IDB said.

The IDB said that in 2016,  climate financing from the MDBs had totaled US$27.4 billion.

The latest MDB climate finance figures are detailed in the 2017 “Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance,” combining data from the African Development Bank , the Asian Development Bank , the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank , the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB and IDB Invest) and the World Bank Group (World Bank, IFC and MIGA).

The IDB said these banks account for the vast majority of multilateral development finance.

In October 2017, the IDB said the Islamic Development Bank joined the MDB climate finance tracking groups, adding that their climate finance figures will be included in reports from 2018 onwards.

The IDB said climate funds, such as the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) , the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund, the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) , the European Union’s funds for Climate Action and others have also played “an important role in boosting MDB climate finance.”

In addition to the US$35.2 billion of multilateral development finance, the IDB said the same adaptation and mitigation projects attracted an additional US$51.7 billion from other sources of financing last year.

Of the 2017 total, 81 per cent was provided as investment loans, the IDB said.

Other types of financial instruments included policy-based lending, grants, guarantees, equity and lines of credit.

Juan Pablo Bonilla, IDB’s manager of the Climate Change and Sustainability Sector, said the bank channeled nearly US$800 million principally to increase resilience of water-related operations and other built infrastructure.

Bonilla said the region, Sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia and the Pacific were the three major developing regions receiving the funds.

“In 2017, Latin America and Caribbean ranked highest among world regions accessing MDB climate finance,” said Gema Sacristán, IDB’s chief investment officer. “This represents an unprecedented and steady increase for the Latin America and Caribbean region over the last two years, with the IDB Group as the region’s partner of choice for investing sustainably in the region.”

The IDB said climate finance addresses the specific financial flows for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities.

“These activities contribute to make MDB finance flows consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development, in line with the Paris Agreement,” the IDB said.

It said the MDBs are currently working on the development of more specific approaches to reporting their activities and how they are aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

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structure - St. Lucia

Saint Lucia To Host Major Regional Building Standards Forum & Exhibition

OECS Media Release

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 — Caribbean countries are still recovering and rebuilding from the ravages of the 2017 hurricane season underscoring the urgent need for disaster resilience to be a top priority in the region. The building sector is of critical concern and this is being addressed in the upcoming Caribbean Building Standards Forum and Exhibition slated for June 13 to 15 at the Bay Gardens Hotel in Saint Lucia. Members of the public and journalists are invited to the event that will start at 8:30.

Hosted at the Bay Gardens Hotel, the activity is a collaboration between the OECS Commission and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) under the theme ‘(Re)building for a Resilient and Robust Response to Disasters’.

It will bring together local and regional stakeholders in the construction and finance industries as well as development partners. The exhibition component will feature building products, technologies and services that enhance disaster resilience and preparedness. This should be of particular interest to the general public as they prepare for this year’s hurricane season which starts officially this month. 

The aim of this regional building forum is two-fold. Firstly, the OECS Commission, under the EU-funded iLAND Resilience Project, is seeking to review and discuss the 2015/2016 OECS Building Code and Guidelines to update and improve their provisions and implementation. Secondly, the CDB is leading the effort to harmonize a regional approach to disaster resilience and regulation of the building sector.

The CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) is also a collaborating partner on this effort and will be participating in the forum. Member States of the OECS and the wider CARICOM region are expected to benefit from this joint appraisal and engagement of the construction sector in respect of resilience.

Presentations will be delivered by regional and international technical experts from various fields in the industry to be followed by working groups and closed sessions.

Members of the public are welcome to participate in the dialogue and the exhibition. 

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Participants at the "After Action Review"

Regional health officials review response after 2017 hurricanes

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands,  CMC – Caribbean health officials have concluded a two-day meeting at which the impact of the 2017 hurricane season was reviewed.

The Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVcaI)  in a statement on Wednesday said member states of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reviewed the hurricanes’ effect during a two-day “After Action Review (AAR)” meeting that ended on Tuesday.

Participants at the "After Action Review"
Participants at the “After Action Review”

During this meeting, health representatives from the impacted countries of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos Islands and the BVI also developed a plan for improving health response in the Caribbean region, the statement noted.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development in the BVI, Petrona Davies said that, as one of the hardest hit jurisdictions, it was “most fitting that the workshop was convened in the BVI.”

She said delegates could witness firsthand not only the lingering effects but also the “incipient challenges arising from complex issues that BVI residents have been forced to confront on an unprecedented scale, such as debris management and housing recovery.

“For the health sector, the landscape in which we are operating is changing, and we must continually adapt in order to meet evolving needs,” Davies said. “But there are some things that remain constant, such as our longstanding relationship with PAHO.

“I am honored to have this opportunity to acknowledge PAHO’s sterling contributions to the people of the Virgin Islands and the region in our disaster relief and recovery efforts,” she added.

Head of the PAHO Team and Regional Health Advisor, Dr. Dana van Alphen, said “the After Action Review,” was “an opportunity to speak openly as a group to identify the issues that arose and to capture the things that worked well. 

“We have to learn from our mistakes and be in a position to address the coordination challenges, as well as arrive at consensus on how to move forward and prepare for what may affect us in the future,” said van Alphen, calling for greater focus on early recovery.

She underscored the importance of having a thorough rapid assessment to guide the recovery process and to alleviate the confusion that is usually seen in this phase.

“Many priorities emerge following a disaster but we must depend on the data that is captured in the rapid assessment phase to guide these priorities,” she said.

“Some of these priorities are difficult to achieve,” van Alphen added. “Debris Management is one of the most challenging areas to address.  The resources are primarily in the private sector, and they are not cheap. 

She said a plan to engage the private sector and to finance this aspect is “critical,” stating that “this is not a function to be performed by a single government entity. 

“It must be seen as a cross-ministry approach and a major activity needed to achieve early recovery outcomes,” the PAHO official said.

The BVI Government statement said the “After Action Review” meeting allowed for various presentations to be delivered including the experience of a renowned Non-Government Organization, Americares that works to improve health for affected people. 

The organization provided significant support to Dominica post-hurricane Maria, the statement said.

Presentations were made by health officials from impacted islands.

The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) presented on the “Building Back Better Process” and the connections with a SMART Approach, “which provides a methodology for connecting resiliency, environmental protection and health,” the statement said.

It said DDM officials also led a panel discussion on logistics and relief distribution.

One of the main outcomes of the two-day session, facilitated by PAHO in collaboration with the DDM, was a discussion and a plan for preparing for the 2018 Hurricane Season.

The AAR meeting will be followed by a meeting of Health Disaster Coordinators, which will be held in Barbados in two weeks.

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UNICEF and WFP sign agreement to strengthen governments’ cash-based transfer programmes to respond to emergencies

by STAFF WRITER

ROSEAU, Dominica, May 3, CMC –  UNICEF and World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Directors for Latin America and the Caribbean on Thursday signed an agreement to support governments in the region to be better prepared and equipped to use cash transfer programmes to assist their population during emergencies. 

UNICEF’s Marita Perceval and WFP’s Miguel Barreto signed the agreement here, at the start of a workshop to review the emergency cash-based transfer programme the two agencies supported in the Caribbean country, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017. 

In emergencies, transfers – either cash or vouchers – allow affected people to determine and prioritise their own needs and strengthen their autonomy and dignity. Additionally, they stimulate local economies and revitalise markets, thus promoting resilience in affected communities, as seen in Dominica. 

The three-month programme implemented by the Government of Dominica with the support of the two agencies in the aftermath of the Category 5 hurricane Maria, provided emergency cash transfers to 25,000 affected people, including 6,000 children. 

Payments helped families meet their basic needs, including food, clothes, hygiene items, school supplies and reconstruction materials. 

“Emergency cash helped vulnerable Dominicans who had lost so much get back on their feet again. The cash was a lifeline for affected people but it also allowed them to regain priceless strength and hope,”. Barreto said.

“We know these programmes work and can be used effectively by Governments, with our joint UN support, to prepare for and respond to future emergencies,” he added. 

“When we take care of a child in an emergency, we are not only giving immediate protection, we are making sure that she can develop to her full potential,” said Perceval.

“Dominica’s pioneering experience using cash transfers as a response to emergency breaks the barrier between humanitarian and development work, and is a testament to what the collaboration of UNICEF and WFP, under the Dominica’s government leadership, can accomplish for the region.” 

In the document , the two regional agencies  agreed to collaborate in preparing feasibility assessments to determine if a cash-based response is useful in a given country or context, and co-financing cash-based transfer programmes.

Both agencies will develop and/or strengthen key programme tools to implement cash- based transfer programmes in an emergency context; programme implementation and capacity strengthening of government partners; as well as monitoring and evaluation. 

 

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DSC_4325

Ferry travel to Montserrat failed for high seas

By Bennette Roach

The March seas struck again and stranded over 100 passengers in Antigua on Wednesday, March 7, just like it did last year also in March, when that time the ferry successfully docked and landed passengers at the Plymouth jetty in the exclusion zone. This followed cancellations the week before when hundreds had already begun to arrive for the Festival.

The Access Division had arranged for the passengers who had been stuck in Antigua since high seas caused cancellation of the ferry service on Sunday, 4th to travel down and dock at Port Plymouth.

But later it would be observed that there were some miscalculations. The Jaden Sun was on advice that it would be able to dock at the port Plymouth arrived just about mid-day before the sea changed its composure and the waters surged just as the ferry docked. The surge caused the ferry to pull against its rope and broke a mooring on deck, just when our attention was drawn to the water rising by an official who had been at the port waiting for the arrival of the ferry. He pointed out prior to that the water was relatively ‘flat’.

The Jaden Sun captain known for his deep concern for safety of passengers and his ship, decided that he would not risk the discomfort and possible danger for passengers to alight from the boat, immediately pulled away heading back towards Antigua.

A total of 114 passengers were reportedly aboard, but officials told us that the captain would check the waters in Little Bay to see if the situation was different. On arrival at Little Bay we observed how the water seemed flat and noted also that the Jaden Sun was slowly approaching, as was reported to have a look. It held up a distance from the jetty when a wave as seen in the photographs which caused a good ride up and down. Not abnormal in similar circumstances. But anyone listening to the reaction by persons ashore from videos gone viral, it would seem as the boat was in some danger, which it wasn’t. So too as later reported that passengers were shaken by the sudden ride that boat took on with the single big wave. The captain blew his horn and took off back to Antigua with some obviously frustrated passengers, some of whom had not been back to Montserrat as far back as the 70’s.

Hold up in Antigua getting to Montserrat

The island is expected an estimated 2000 people to arrive in the days, this set some of whom were in Antigua since the Sunday, March 4th on their way to enjoy the annual St Patrick’s Festival which officially began on Friday, March 9.

The Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo explained on ZJB Radio that the decision to dock in Plymouth was not taken lightly and early morning indications had shown that it would be safe for the ferry to dock there. However, by the time the ferry arrived at noon, the surf had increased and made it unsafe to dock.

Premier Romeo said the government “has taken the responsibility to provide meals, transport and accommodations to the passengers, pending further plans.”

The Access Division announced late Wednesday that flight arrangements were being finalised for the elderly and children to be flown in on Thursday March 8, 2018.

The festivities are in high gear – grand finale begin tomorrow

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the failed slave rebellion on March 17th 1768 and authorities here are forecasting that over 7,000 people will flock the island for the commemoration.

The Tourism Division has informed that on St. Patrick’s Day itself, more than 1500 persons will travel via ferry from Guadeloupe, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica and Antigua.

The Jeans for Freedom Ferry is expected to arrive on Montserrat with 437 people from Guadeloupe on March 17th.

568 passengers are also expected in from Antigua and Barbuda on St. Patrick’s Day, 218 passengers on the Jayden Sun and 350 on the MV lovely 1.

The Sea Hustler will transport 150 passengers from St. Kitts and Nevis on March 16th with a return date of March 18th.

The Tourism Division says based on its promotions in Antigua, it is also anticipating several yachts, based in English Harbour, to journey over to Montserrat during the week.

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Ash and lava are visible inside the cone of the Soufrière Hills volcano, seen from Olveston, Montserrat, in January 2007. Photograph: Wayne Fenton/AP

MVO Director Stewart fixes UK Guardian, Express newspapers misrepresentation

by Bennette Roach

Soufriere Hills mountain, March 5, 2018

It wouldn’t be the first time that UK Newspapers have distorted and published information that turned out unfavourable and detrimental to the Island.

Publication of articles like this with this kind of information, is reminiscent of 1997-8 when the UK Government authorities broadcasted and said that there might be a cataclysmic eruption that would cause Montserrat to completely evacuated. The result of that in spite of vehement denial of that situation from the Government and scientists on Montserrat, it was not until 2008 the UK relented on the misinformation.

Very cleverly written, if not with some dishonesty. If one doesn’t read carefully, you will miss that Professor Neuberg is not the one saying, ‘Sadly, Montserratians must continue to wait.’

The only information attributed to Professor Neuberg is the following: “Except for the gas plume there is nothing visible on the surface, but the instruments show us clearly that the deformation is ongoing and the entire island is still inflating.”

With all the observations and opinions inserted, some of the information is far from up to date, even though they claimed they were reporting on very recent information.

As the Director Stewart observes the Express was even more damning in its reporting on this matter.

Here MVO director sets the record straight.

Statement on the Status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (Director, Roderick Stewart)

Following the publication on 7 March 2018 of two articles in UK newspapers (The Guardian and The Express), members of the public have expressed concerns about the current status of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat (SHV), particularly with reference to ground deformation. Monitoring data recorded and interpreted by Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) shows no changes that suggest that new activity is imminent. The newspaper articles are misleading and, in the case of The Express, alarmist.

Ash and lava are visible inside the cone of the Soufrière Hills volcano, seen from Olveston, Montserrat, in January 2007. Photograph: Wayne Fenton/AP

Since the end of the last phase of lava extrusion on 11 February 2010, MVO has observed a slow, steady movement of the ground surface across the whole of Montserrat using data recorded by our network of very precise Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. The news articles in question report on research being carried out by MVO in collaboration with Professor Jurgen Neuberg (University of Leeds, UK) that seeks to understand this trend. The research suggests that, since February 2010, the underground magma system that feeds the SHV has been slowly recharged by the influx of magma at depth. This causes the pressure inside the system to increase, which is then seen as upwards and outwards movement of the ground surface around the volcano.

The news articles suggest that the research has produced new information. In the Express article this, when combined with a very small swarm of small-magnitude earthquakes on 25 February 2018, indicates that a new eruption may be imminent. This is not the case. Brief swarms of such earthquakes have occurred on more than one hundred occasions since 2007.

All the data recorded by MVO since the last surface activity in February 2010 follows a consistent long-term trend which was also characteristic of four previous pauses in activity. The overall earthquake activity has been relatively low; the observed deformation pattern shows slow inflation; and the sulphur dioxide gas output is between 200 and 400 tons per day.

The restrictions on access to some areas of Montserrat have been in place for many years and all visits to these areas, including for economic activity, are closely controlled and very carefully managed.

 

 

 

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agriculture

IICA backs CARICOM efforts to turn the Caribbean into the first region resilient to climate change

 
 
 SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Mar 2, CMC – The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has pledged support for the efforts by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to become the first region resilient to climate change.

IICA said that its Director General Manuel Otero in keeping with the objectives expressed by regional leaders during the just concluded inter-sessional summit in Haiti, emphasized that the Institute pursues objectives similar to those outlined at the meeting.

agricultureHe said the fact that, as an organization entrusted with promoting agricultural development in the Americas, IICA’s work focuses on creating a more productive, inclusive and resilient agriculture.

“IICA, along with the President of Haiti, (Jovenel Moise) recognizes the region’s vulnerability to the severe effects of climate change, reflected in droughts, major hurricanes and floods, which are the most visible and increasingly intense phenomena experienced in the Caribbean and Central America.

“In this regard, it is timely to recall that strengthening cooperation in areas vulnerable to natural disasters was one of the concrete results achieved during the recent visit by the Director General of IICA to Ottawa, Canada, where agreements were reached with prestigious and active organizations such as the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) to increase urgent and committed actions to tackle the most destructive effects of climate change on family agriculture.”

IICA said that these same objectives were discussed earlier this week in Washington by Otero and the Deputy Director General of IICA, Lloyd Day during meetings with private sector representatives and with high-ranking officials of the United States government and multilateral credit organizations.

The statement noted that in response to the concerns expressed by CARICOM leaders, IICA will continue its efforts to strengthen South-South cooperation by promoting increased exchanges of knowledge and experiences and intraregional trade to mitigate the region’s vulnerability to the devastating effects of natural disasters.

“IICA also acknowledges the efforts of the member states of CARICOM and congratulates them for the agreement signed in Port-au-Prince, aimed at supporting the reconstruction of the countries affected by hurricanes Irma, Maria and Matthew, in the context of their public policies to promote institutional strengthening, actions to mitigate natural disasters and resilience to climate change,” the statement added.

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High seas could affect arrivals for St. Patrick’s Day memorial celebrations

Rough waters at Little Bay

With much of the debate still raging even after TMR suggestions from over a year ago, to plan early in respect of the debate that continued to be aired then regarding how and what the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are being considered, this year there is expected to be more visitors that the population of Montserrat which stands at just around 5,000.

With no changes in our plans for increasing access to Montserrat by air, the Access Division has announced through promotions mainly the festival organisers that as many as three ferries will be ushered into operations for the arrival of visiting Montserrat and tourists from neighbouring islands and elsewhere.

Rough waters at Little Bay

But there is a problem. Sources are predicting high seas affecting the islands including Montserrat which is very susceptible to curtail and interrupt ferry docking at Little Bay.

Already since the beginning of February, there has had to cancel the ferry schedule of operations into Little Bay port. Last week there no operations for most of the week, and late this week the problem is surfacing with the reports of even higher seas likely.

Of course, there probably remains landing possibilities at Port Plymouth. No word as people have begun arriving, the last number reported on arrivals by ferry being over 60 at one landing.

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