New UN Disaster Preparedness Hub Being Built in Barbados
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), a new UN-backed humanitarian logistics hub and training center, which will be built in Barbados, aims to boost emergency planning and response across the Caribbean.
The facility, which will be located at the Sir Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown, is a partnership between the UN agency, the Barbadian government, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
The WFP said that once the hub is operational, it will support air and sea operations, as well as serve as a prepositioning and response center and a shipment point for humanitarian materials.
WFP Administrator David Beasley attended the ground-breaking event alongside Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and CDEMA Executive Director Elizabeth Riley.
In a tweet, David Beasley said, “It’s official! @WFP will establish a new logistics hub in #Barbados to store and quickly dispatch critical relief items when disaster strikes. This could not be more important for #Caribbean nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis, where every minute & every hour matters.”
At the ground-breaking event, Beasley said, “The Caribbean islands are right on the frontlines of climate change. As hurricanes become more frequent and severe, we need to be fully prepared so that lives are saved, livelihoods are defended, and hard-won development gains are protected.”
He continued, “This facility will ensure our partners across the region can serve the people of the Caribbean even more effectively in times of need.”
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Minister of Home Affairs and Information Wilfred Abrahams said the establishment of a logistics hub regional to the Caribbean was a success for the small island nations. He said, “This facility will be the first of its kind in the region and will serve as a central location for the facilitation of coordinated efforts and responses in the event of emergencies [and] natural disasters.”
Abrahams reiterated that all of the Caribbean nations would benefit from the hub which plans on enhancing the area’s readiness for disasters as well as shortening the response time in crisis situations.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, storms, floods, droughts, and volcanic eruptions are common in Caribbean countries.
According to the WFP, 511 disasters worldwide have struck the small island states over the last seven decades. Moreover, half (324) of the disasters occurred in the Caribbean, where economies were hit six times harder than larger countries.
The hub’s construction was partially funded by Canada, the European Union, and the United States. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that 22 emergency response, coordination, and government officials from a diverse range of agencies in St. Lucia are now better prepared to respond to natural disasters such as storms, flooding, and landslides, with a focus on information management.
In a statement, OCHA announced that it had facilitated stakeholder training through the United Nations Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. They said, “With Caribbean countries, including St. Lucia, being highly vulnerable to endemic hazards that pose significant risks to lives and livelihoods, continuous support, especially in data collection and analysis, is critical to ensure a more coherent, rapid, and effective response.”
Randy Warner, OCHA’s Information Management Assistant, stated that a lack of data has substantially challenged and, in certain cases, hampered the efficient emergency response. He ensured that the creation and development of the Caribbean-based hub would allow for a culmination of data from the area and increase the efficacy of response and aid in crisis situations.