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

What future for the ACP-EU partnership post-2015?

ACP 100th session Dec 2014“There are still prospects for a meaningful ACP-EU partnership, capable of contributing and responding concretely and effectively to the objectives of promoting and attaining peace, security, poverty eradication and sustainable development,” according to the top official of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

ACP Secretary General Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni was speaking at the 100th session of the ACP Council of Ministers held here from Dec. 9 to 12, during which ACP and European Union representatives took the opportunity to renew their commitment to working closely together, particularly in crafting a common strategy for the post-2015 global development agenda.

Besides discussing trade issues, development finance, humanitarian crises and the current Ebola crisis, the two sides also tackled future perspectives and challenges for the ACP itself and for its partnership with the European Union.

Read more at Inter Press Service

CARICOM, Turkey to strengthen trade links

Accreditation of new Turkish envoy to CARICOM

The newly accredited envoy of Turkey to CARICOM, Ambassador Sulé Oztunç (L) presents her Letters of Credence to the CARICOM SG, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque(R)

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Turkey will continue to strengthen their relations with the accreditation of Ambassador Sulé Oztunç, as new Plenipotentiary Representative of Turkey to the Community.

In accepting her credentials on Tuesday, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said the occasion signaled Turkey’s growing commitment to ensure “the immense potential” of its relationship with CARICOM was “fully realized.

Speaking during a short ceremony at the CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana, Ambassador LaRocque recalled the First Co-operation and Consultation Meeting held in Turkey in July between the two sides. Since that first meeting, he said CARICOM had seen results as the representatives of Turkish International Development Agency had come to the Region and received projects for its consideration. Relaying that one included the enhancing of information and communications technology at the Secretariat, Ambassador LaRocque added that the Community anticipated the development of an action plan that will guide the implementation of the other areas identified at that meeting. (more…)