Dominica Minister says Caribbean can learn from its rebuilding efforts

Still recovering from the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Erika two years ago, the small island of Dominica was hit by Hurricane Maria – a category five storm about a month ago.

The country’s entire infrastructure was left in ruins, leaving its population of approximately 74,000 people without potable water, electricity, shelter and food.

Despite the challenges, Dominica’s Minister of Housing, Reginald Austrie told the News Room that other Caribbean States can use the island’s experience as a model for rebuilding.

“Dominica is a test case. Hurricane is a threat to the region, or other natural disasters and one of those days it could be the turn of another country to face those challenges and so we are saying, if we can resolve or identify some of the critical areas that Hurricane Maria has exposed then the other countries in the region can piggyback on whatever advancement we can make and whatever solutions we can find,” he explained during an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association Conference being hosted at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston in Guyana.

Read more at: News Room

Hurricane recovery: Children to benefit from OECS-UNICEF ‘Return to Happiness Programme’

children-drawing-pencils-case

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 — 214 children from Barbuda received psycho social assistance, after the trauma of hurricane Irma, through the Return to Happiness Programme implemented from October 2-7 by 17 education specialists. The Saint Lucian delegation of volunteers, who successfully completed the first mission, will extend their operations to other affected countries.

The passage of two category 5 hurricanes resulted in major material damage in several countries of the region and also left significant psychological marks on the victims, which is more difficult to evaluate. Natural disasters of this magnitude often leave survivors suffering from trauma and, especially when children are affected, their emotional suffering needs to be given special attention.

As a result, the OECS Commission and UNICEF partnered to implement a psycho social programme dedicated to children between 5 to 12 years old: Return to Happiness Programme (RTH). The RTH methodology has been used worldwide in countries impacted by a human or natural catastrophe such as major armed conflicts or high magnitude earthquakes. Its goal is to support the recovery of young children by giving them opportunities to share their feelings.

A team of 17 education professionals trained in the Return to Happiness methodology have been sent from Saint Lucia to Antigua and Barbuda on a mission from October 2 to 5. These educators received logistical support from the OECS Commission to ensure air transportation and the necessary accommodations on the ground.

Read more at: Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

CARDI taking action to help rebuild agriculture in Barbuda, Dominica

CARDI Executive Director, Mr. Barton Clarke speaks about reviving agriculture in Barbuda, Dominica from Caribbean Community on Vimeo.

As we observe World Food Day today, we tell you that the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has already begun taking action to restore the recently battered agriculture sectors in Barbuda and Dominica.

And while he lamented the destruction of thriving sectors that was caused by monster storms, Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Executive Director of CARDI, Mr. Barton Clarke, said that agriculture in the two islands will flourish again.

He said that CARDI had participated in the initial assessments of the damage to the islands, and was now looking at what their needs are. He said that the regional institution will liaise with the Secretariat of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) which has been mobilising assistance in agriculture. In an interview with CARICOM Today on 5 October, ahead of the 71st Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development on Agriculture at the CARICOM Secretariat, Mr. Clarke said that the Region had some internal capacity to assist immediately to plant short-term crops.

All hands needed on deck for post-hurricane recovery – WB Meeting hears

Statement on High Level Meeting on Recovery and Resilience in the Caribbean

The participants highlighted the need for a response involving all partners, including regional organizations, development partners, private sector, national Governments and civil society, to leverage comparative advantages for building resilience to disasters in highly vulnerable small-island states, as extreme weather events have added to their existing economic vulnerabilities. The contribution of the private sector will also be critical, offering both resources and expertise.
Washington, October 13th, 2017– Leaders and representatives of CARICOM countries and territories, and international partners, including the international financial institutions, and the representatives of territories in the region, convened (Friday) in a high-level round table on recovery and resilience in the Caribbean hosted by the World Bank Group (WBG), as part of the WBG-IMF Annual Meetings.

During the discussion, participants examined the impact of and recovery from the destructive hurricanes that struck the Caribbean in September, reviewed the instruments available for disaster risk management and response, and considered the need to innovate further in order to address the long-term challenges and strengthen resilience of affected islands.

Participants expressed solidarity and support to the affected islands and communities, and reaffirmed their commitment to working together to build back better and in a more resilient way, following the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. They highlighted the need to ensure active engagement of communities, especially women, in the recovery and reconstruction process, as well as the importance of putting in place building standards that will mitigate the impact of future extreme weather events. The participants also noted the importance of making progress on the World Bank’s Small States Roadmap which proposes various initiatives to promote resilience of small states.

Caribbean storms show urgency of rethinking aid for small island states

Aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, BVIs (Photo via OECS)
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, BVIs (Photo via OECS)

A series of devastating storms in the Caribbean has highlighted the vulnerability of small island states, where a single hurricane can undo years of development and plunge prosperous households into poverty from one day to the next.

Hurricane Irma turned 90 percent of homes on Barbuda to rubble and left financial losses of USD 100-200 million. Hurricane Maria has knocked out power to the entire US territory of Puerto Rico.

For most developed countries, a natural disaster triggers action from national governments to provide emergency relief and compensation – witness the recent emergency spending provided by the US Congress following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But unlocking emergency funds is not always straightforward for small island developing states, not all of which have easy access to capital markets. Small island states often have high public debt ratios and insurance coverage among households and businesses can be limited.

Grenada is still paying the consequences of being hit successively in 2004 and 2005 by Hurricanes Ivan and Emily. Estimated losses amounted to 200 percent of gross domestic product, and Grenada is still in “debt distress” according to the International Monetary Fund. The Cook Islands are still subject to austerity measures under a 1998 debt restructuring agreement prompted by the reconstruction costs that followed Cyclone Martin two decades ago.

Read more at: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

EU commits €665,000 to reduce spread of Zika in the Caribbean

EU representative, Daniela Tramacere
EU Ambassador, Daniela Tramacere

The European Union has committed €655,000 to help Caribbean States reduce the spread and impact of Zika and other mosquito borne diseases in the Region. The activities will be implemented by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) under the leadership of the Caribbean Forum for ACP States (CARIFORUM).

The specific objective is to support CARPHA’s activities to strengthen health systems to effectively monitor, prevent and control Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases in the Caribbean region, ultimately to contribute to improving public health of the Caribbean population.

The main activities are to promote early detection and effective monitoring of Zika, to enhance laboratory capacity for detection, to assist in the development of national registries of pregnant women exposed to Zika, and to strengthen public education and behaviour change regarding Zika and other airborne viruses.