by Julia Rawlins-Bentham
BGIS Press Release.
Efforts to enhance disaster management throughout the Caribbean received a much needed boost today, with a 20 million euro grant from the European Union (EU).
And, Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, has lauded the grant, noting it signalled the region’s importance to the EU and to the Comprehensive Disaster Management programme.
He made these comments while delivering opening remarks during the launch of the Africa, Caribbean, Pacific – European Union National Disaster Risk Management in the CARIFORUM Programme at Radisson Aquatica Resort.
“Twenty million euros is not by any stretch of the imagination a little bit of money, and it signals a very serious commitment on the part of the European Union …at a time in particular when worldwide we are all stretched financially,” Mr. Brathwaite said.
The Minister further pointed out that even as countries pushed for a government/private sector partnership for their Comprehensive Disaster Management programmes, the number of lives being impacted often went unnoticed.
But, he stated, it was still their responsibility to ensure that the region, individually and collectively, was better able to respond to any type of hazard, whether it be man-made or natural.
Meanwhile, Head of the European Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Mikael Barfod, explained the CARIFORUM Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme was designed to focus on the reduction of risks due to natural hazards.
He added that it complemented past and present EU disaster-related support in the region, both through development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
“Addressing disaster management in the region is critical to ensuring sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. This is particularly true for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of which 23 of the 52, designated by the United Nations, are located in the Caribbean,” he said.
Director General of CARIFORUM, Percival Marie, noted that the programme recognised the vulnerability of the SIDS of the Caribbean, and that one single event could destroy the economies of a number of states within just a few hours.
As a result, the programme is designed to strengthen regional, national and community-level capacities for mitigation, preparedness, management and coordinated responses to natural hazards, and the effects of climate change.“It is only through resilient growth that we can achieve sustainable development,” Mr. Marie stated.
Beneficiary countries include Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
The programme will be implemented over a five year period, from 2014 to 2019, by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Dominican Republic.