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Caribbean Disaster Agency Highlights 5 Key Areas of Concern at Meet

(CNS) The region’s disaster management chief, Ronald Jackson, has highlighted five critical areas of focus as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) seeks to develop “saer, more resilient and sustainable Caribbean communities”.

These include Enhancing Social Protection for the Most Vulnerable; Safeguarding Infrastructure; Economic Diversification; Environmental/Ecosystems Protection and Enhanced Operational Readiness.

Addressing the sixth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cartagena, Colombia last week.

the CDEMA executive director also noted that “the region has produced a Caribbean Assessment Report that captures the performance of the Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy over the period of implementation 2014-2016”.

He also said CDEMA was “quite pleased” with the efforts undertaken within the context of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, UNISDR, to better harmonize reporting within the Caribbean, adding that “we remain committed to reporting on progress in the implementation of the priorities of action”.

This year’s three-day seminar, under the theme “Towards a Less Vulnerable Region with more Resilient Communities”,  allowed participants to share experiences and lessons learned in the 2017 hurricane season, transfer knowledge and show successes related to disaster risk reduction at the regional and national levels.

In addition to Jackson, other CDEMA officials, including Deputy Executive Director Elizabeth Riley and Planning & Business Development Manager Andria Grosvenor, participated in various panel discussions and delivered presentations which emphasized the need for countries, especially Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean to accelerate efforts at building resilience.

It was announced that Jamaica will be the first Caribbean country to host the Seventh Session of the Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2020.

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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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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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UK Continues to Help Islands Rebuild after Hurricanes

Following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, the UK Government remains committed to helping Caribbean islands to build back better.  

To date, the British Government has provided £185m in aid to Caribbean, Commonwealth partner countries and UK Overseas Territories. This includes £35m in aid to hard-hit Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, which has provided the islands’ communities with immediate humanitarian assistance, food, water, emergency shelter, roofing materials, timber, hygiene kits and seeds, and fertiliser. The UK will also make £8m available to promote hurricane and disaster resilience across the region and in individual countries.

During a recent visit to Dominica, British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Janet Douglas, visited areas around Pichelin and Geneva which will benefit from planned, UK-funded improvements to water systems and roads.

High Commissioner Douglas said, “The impact Hurricane Maria had on the Eastern Caribbean was devastating.  I am proud that the UK is providing vital support to help the region’s ongoing recovery. Hurricanes Irma and Maria illustrated the challenges small Caribbean islands face and the importance of helping these countries find robust and sustainable ways to combat such threats.”

Through the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF), the UK is additionally investing over £300m in infrastructure across the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica to help increase resilience to natural disasters and the effects of climate change. This additional funding will play a vital role in laying the foundations for growth and prosperity, reduce poverty and create jobs and opportunities for the people of the Caribbean. All of which have been earmarked as high priority areas in the run up to the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). This will take place in London in April 2018.

In preparation for the 2018 transatlantic hurricane season, RFA Mounts Bay is currently embarking on a wider regional mandate, to lend further support to recovering UK Overseas Territories and independent countries. The ship’s Captain, David Buck, met with Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) during his most recent visit to Bridgetown, reaffirming the commitment of both parties to be better placed to handle possible disasters this year. The ship also visited Antigua and Barbuda while in the region, reiterating that the British Navy vessel continues to be on short notice, to react to any emerging crises around the Caribbean.

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Dr Warren Smith

US800M available from CDB for hurricane recovery

– following Bank’s strong 2017 performance

By Staff Writer February 9, 2018

Dr Warren Smith

President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr Warren Smith,  on Wednesday announced that the institution is making US$700 to 800 million available to help Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) recover from the impact of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

The funding, which the Bank will provide over the next five years, complements its ongoing work to build resilience in the Caribbean Region, according to a media release from CDB.

“Disaster risk management and resilience building took centre-stage again in CDB’s strategic responses to the challenges facing our BMCs,” Smith said in the CDB statement, while outlining the Bank’s 2017 performance during his Annual News Conference.

“To incentivise BMCs to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure, CDB must be able to also offer grants and other attractively priced financial resources.  But the challenges our Region faces are bigger than what CDB can handle on its own.  We have, therefore, been drawing on a combination of our own resources as well as funds intermediated through CDB by other development partners to meet this challenge,” the CDB president was quoted as saying in the bank’s press release.

In 2017, the CDB mobilised concessionary resources from development partners to support more resilient infrastructure projects throughout the Region, according to the CDB media release. Among the resources tapped was the Second Climate Action Line of Credit from the European Investment Bank totalling US$144 million, including US$24 million for emergency post-disaster rehabilitation. Last year, the Bank also announced a new US$70 million fund, through which the Government of Mexico will provide grants to boost regional infrastructure in the Bank’s BMCs.

In 2018, the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund, a 300 million pounds sterling programme launched two years ago, will be expanded to include an additional 28 million pounds sterling to assist in the recovery efforts in Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, the President announced in the statement.

“The Caribbean has had a long history of bouncing back from natural disasters and other external shocks.  So, in the events of 2017, we see immense opportunity for the BMCs to come back stronger and more resilient,” said Smith in the release, while noting that the Caribbean is the second-most vulnerable region to climate change in the world.

In highlighting the Bank’s improved performance in 2017, Smith said that CDB recorded strong growth in both approvals and disbursements according to the press release. It approved capital loans and technical assistance interventions totalling US$364 million, up 18 percent over 2016. In addition, in 2017, the Bank disbursed US$233 million – an increase of 13 percent, compared with the previous year.  This was achieved against the backdrop of increasing intensity and frequency of natural disasters, and greater vulnerability of its BMCs.

The Bank achieved a rating upgrade to AA+ from Standard & Poor’s, and an AA+ capital market rating from Fitch Ratings in 2017, and now has a unified rating across the three major rating agencies, including Moody’s Investors Service  (Aa1), the media statement said.

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Barbuda hur

Opposition parties criticise PM over remarks made in Barbuda

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 29, CMC – Two opposition political parties have criticised what they have labelled to be the behaviour last weekend of Prime Minister Gaston Browne in which he is alleged to have made statements highly critical of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials and accusing the organisation of “opportunism”.

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Hurricane damage in Barbuda (CMC Photo)

Both the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) and the minority National Alliance (DNA) said they wanted to apologise to the international agency over the remarks made by Browne.

UPP leader Harold Lovell, speaking on a radio programme here, said that an external agency erecting or displaying signage after contributing to a project in a foreign country is not unheard of but rather, it is “standard procedure.”

“I’m making assumptions here but they have to account to their principles. Their principles as well as the Chinese government at some point would want to do some sort of inspection. They would want to see where their money has been spent.”

Browne is reported to have told the UNDP officials in Barbuda over the last weekend “you can’t come and take credit for all the work that my Government did.

“It’s unacceptable. When we do all the work and then you come and put big signs on there as though you did everything that is what is happening. You got to stop it. You can’t come and give few sheets of plywood and then go and take all the credit. You have to stop it,” Browne said as he also criticised the UNDP that has had a presence on Barbuda since the island was hit by the Category 5 Hurricane Irma last September.

Browne told the UNDP officials to remove stickers, which displayed two logos, – one for the UNDP and one for the Government of China – from on a number of homes.

Official said that the stickers, were placed to indicate that the roof of the house was repaired with material from the UNDP procurement project funded by the People’s Republic of China.

“So you cannot now offer a few sheets of plywood and then put a UNDP sticker on the building to suggest that it was done by the UNDP. That is opportunism. And I have directed that every single sticker on this building be taken down. I’m not trying to be controversial. But we do not want a situation whereby the domestic population gets the impression that the government is not making any contribution and that everything is coming from abroad,” he said.

“And by the way, the UNDP is our employee. We employ them to do this. They’re not doing it for free. The people who we are to be grateful to are the donors – the Indian Government, the Chinese Government,” Browne added.

But Lovell told radio listeners that Browne’s behaviour on Friday was “pompous and obnoxious” and questioned whether the intent was to “publicly humiliate everyone.

“Even if [the prime minister] thought he had a point, it’s not the way you deal with it. Call a meeting or pull people aside and you could make your point just as strongly.”

The DNA said the party wanted to “apologise on behalf of the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda for the display by our Prime Minister to the international donor agencies that are here to help us”.

CMC/ad/ir/2018

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Maria-Irma

Caribbean American publication names hurricanes ‘Person of the Year’

NEW YORK,  CMC – A prominent Caribbean American publication here has named Hurricanes Irma and Maria, described as “the two mega, Category 5 hurricanes of 2017,” as its “Person of the Year.”

The Brooklyn-based EVERYBODY’S Magazine, owned and published by Grenadian Herman Hall, said it is the first time the 40-year old publication “selected a phenomenon as its Person of the Year.”

Maria-Irma“It can be said that the numerous and ferocious hurricanes of 2017, Usain Bolt failing to win his final track and field races, and Trinidad and Tobago knocking out the US from entering FIFA World Cup in 2018 were the major 2017 headlines in the Caribbean and within Caribbean communities overseas,” Hall said.

“Maria and Irma may well have affirmed Atilla the Hun’s classic calypso recorded in New York City in 1935, ‘Woman Is Not The Weaker Sex’ and Denise Plumber’s 1988 calypso ‘Woman is Boss’.,” he added. “Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma showed their male counterparts, Hurricanes Harvey, Lee, Jose and Bret, who is really the boss and the stronger sex.

“The handwriting is on the wall, in that Caribbean governments can no longer expect the US to eagerly and generously help them in time of natural disasters,” Hall continued.

In September, Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through the northern Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction and ravaging 12 of 32 countries, according to reports.

Most of the islands affected included Barbuda, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, the Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Hall said previous EVERYBODY’S Magazine “Person of the Year” included St. Lucian Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis; the late Caribbean American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, of Barbadian and Guyanese parentage; former Prime Ministers Patrick Manning, of Trinidad and Tobago, Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica, Tom Adams, of Barbados, and Baldwin Spencer, of Antigua and Barbuda.

Others were: The Mighty Sparrow, Jamaican-born Olympian and WNBA player Tina Charles; Grenadian Olympian Kirani James; and former West Indies cricket captain Guyanese Clive Lloyd.

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BDF

Regional Security System ends humanitarian mission to Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Dec 29, CMC – The Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS) Friday ended its humanitarian mission to Dominica, just over three months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

The category five hurricane swept over the island on September 18, killing at least 29 people leaving behind billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure, destroying an estimated 90 per cent of the housing stock and downing power lines.

BDF
BDF Chief of Staff Col. Glyne Grannum welcomes
returning RSS troops (CMC Photo)

Troops from the RSS, including the Barbados Defence Force (BDF), had been on island since September 20, providing relief supplies and rendering assistance in law enforcement, among other areas.

They returned here on board the Barbados Coast Guard vessel, HMBS Leonard C Banfield, which made the initial voyage, and were greeted by Barbados Defence Force (BDF) Chief of Staff Colonel Glyne Grannum.

“Your contribution has been significant, valued and highly appreciated especially given your last effort, the last chapter, in which you lot would have sacrificed Christmas and a significant portion of the holiday season with your families, your loved ones, in order to render service and to do what was required to help Dominica back on its feet,” Grannum told the troops.

He added that rehabilitation efforts are ongoing, even though the RSS members have returned home.

“The main lesson learned at this stage from the last rotation is that we have to endure into the future, and we have to continue to help Dominica.  The troops may be back home safely with their families, deservedly with their loved ones, but we need to continue to help Dominica in the months, and I suspect, in the years ahead.”

Grannum visited the troops in Dominica on Christmas Day, as part of the annual visit to the island’s military bases. He told reporters that the assistance of regional troops was critical to the recovery efforts, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“Because with the best will in the world, the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force they were stretched.  They were working long hours, and they themselves suffered losses at home where they needed the augmentation for specific periods to help them rehabilitate.

“And in that regard, though not on this rotation, I must point out the contribution of the Royal Barbados Police Force and indeed our own Barbados Fire Service, those were significant contributions to helping Dominica get to where it is today, the 29th of December, and indeed going forward, a signal as to how we can continue to help the process and to help the country,” he said.

“We (BDF) remain one of the leading member states of the Regional Security System and in that responsibility is the Barbados Defence Force to maintain a level of commitment to the security alliance.  And that would mean if they require assistance in terms of operations, relief, reinforcement to their police force or their disaster response mechanism, that we would be willing to step up and to redeploy persons to help in particular cases.

“Of course we are also backed, and are reinforced by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)  mechanism, to be able to assist with disaster mitigation planning.”

Grannum said such planning is all the more critical, given that the next hurricane season begins in the six months.

“So going forward we are determined to continue to assist Dominica as is required with specific items and to include wider readiness within the RSS and within the CDEMA mechanisms for our regional effort.

“And we ourselves in Barbados, we need to be ready.  There’s nothing that says we can’t be affected to the scale or worse than Dominica, so we need to take a particular consciousness, awareness and readiness to getting ready for severe weather systems like hurricanes,” he said.

According to Grannum, this state of readiness should not be confined to the military, but should also involve the wider society.

“Being ready is really a change in behaviour. It is a complex scale of activities involving not just us in the military, but communities, what they can do to develop plans for looking after vulnerable persons, it involves … taking care of the environment, it involves supporting those who go into harm’s way,” he said.

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Caribbean Seeks ‘Silver Christmas Lining’ Post-Hurricanes

 
 
Telesur
 
Published 25 December 2017
“It is a rough road, but a road with a lot of heart,” said journalist Alita Singh, from Saint Martin, which was severely battered by hurricanes Irma and Maria earlier this year.

Despite many people in the Caribbean still struggling to rebuild their homes in the wake of devastating recent hurricanes, the Chistmas spirit lives on with communities coming together to celebrate “every development” since September’s storms.

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“Normally by now, you would see businesses giving out turkeys and ham… not this year,” said Gavin Richards, a Dominican broadcaster.

“The shopping trips are definitely down because the money isn’t there… This would have been the peak,” said fellow broadcast journalist Keithstone Greaves, from Anguilla.

“Some folks are trying to get the Christmas feel, but everything is low-key because people are really trying hard to get their lives together.”

After hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated several Caribbean nations, thousands of people were left homeless and unemployed. With finances stretched over reconstruction plans and purchasing bare necessities, traditional Christmas customs have largely had to be abandoned.

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But despite the lack of expansive Christmas dinners and desserts, local businesses are everything they can to bring the holiday spirit to struggling communities, says journalist Alita Singh, insisting that people are instead finding joy in the little things this year.

Brightly lit streets, reliable water sources, food on the shelves: these are just a few of the things the Caribbean is being thankful for this Christmas.

“These days, every development is being celebrated,” said Singh, noting that despite the economic deficit, Christmas trees are experiencing a startling resurrection on Saint Martin, which was hit by Hurricane Irma in early September.

“It is a rough road, but a road with a lot of heart.”

Greaves also hopes for a full recovery, suggesting that the spirit and strength of the Caribbean will help keep the region afloat as it navigates its way through this difficult time.

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Brothers sit on a sofa outside their home, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands.

UNICEF says thousands of children need assistance three months after Caribbean hurricanes

UNITED NATIONS, CMC – Three months after two category-5 hurricanes tore through the Caribbean, thousands of children across the region still need support, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)  said on Wednesday.

Brothers sit on a sofa outside their home, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands.
Brothers sit on a sofa outside their home, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in Grand Turks, Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Even before the hurricanes hit, UNICEF was on the ground, working with Governments and local partners to prepare communities and preposition humanitarian supplies for the areas at highest risk,” said Maria Cristina Perceval, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“These included life-saving supplies that were most needed during the immediate response when access to clean water, shelter and basic social services were scarce,” she added.

The UN said Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, caused extensive damage to the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, Haiti and Cuba.

Hurricane Maria then wrought additional damage across the region, with UNICEF estimating that, together, they left 350,000 children in need of humanitarian assistance, the UN said.

“Three months on, UNICEF is still on the ground in these countries and territories, working on programs to support children and families in rebuilding their lives and returning to a sense of normalcy,” Perceval said.

However, she said challenges remain, with many of the most vulnerable families still feeling the effects of the storms.

Perceval said over 35 percent of Dominica’s children – particularly those in shelters – are still not enrolled in education activities; while, in Antigua and Barbuda, many families remain in shelters, unable to return to Irma-wrecked Barbuda.

Working in collaboration with governments and non-governmental organizations, UNICEF said it has been providing immediate humanitarian relief and working to ensure longer term recovery and resilience.

“While life is returning to normal for many, children and families who have lived through these storms will need committed, sustained support to get their homes, communities and lives back on track,” Perceval said.

UNICEF said it is collaborating with its partners in supporting communities through programmes focused on recovery and resilience in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica and Haiti.

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