Hurricane response: Caribbean disaster agency comes of age

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr.Ronald Jackson
Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr.Ronald Jackson

Caribbean governments want to be “taken seriously” in humanitarian management, and this year’s hurricane crises are an opportunity for the UN to “let go”, says a senior regional official. The Caribbean is dealing with “something we’ve never experienced before” but proudly coping, Ronald Jackson, head of the 18-member Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, told IRIN, adding that CDEMA effectively playing a leadership role is a “glimpse of the future”.

At times, sharing and assigning responsibilities has been tricky in the rolling crises caused by recent hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria: Several sources close to the Caribbean operations had told IRIN of a tense relationship between CDEMA and parts of the deployed UN teams.

But Jackson, speaking to IRIN from the CDEMA office in Barbados, brushed such talk aside. He said CDEMA would play its mandated role at the forefront of the response and looked forward to a “posture of support” from the UN humanitarian system, which didn’t mean the UN should “disappear”. Referring to UN assistance in the past, he added: “you’ve held our hand while we crawled”, but now “we’re walking”.

Read more at: IRINNEWS