Disaster management in Barbados and the wider region needs to be strengthened so that the Caribbean can be better positioned in the event of a disaster.
That’s the assessment of Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, who stressed that there was a need for the region to be better prepared to handle such eventualities.
Brathwaite, also Attorney General, made these statements during a recent courtesy call with Canadian High Commissioner, Richard Hanley at his Wildey, St. Michael office.
“As a region, disaster management is not a sexy area. But, as a country, to underestimate the importance of a proper structure, can set us back years if we do not get it right,” he cautioned, noting that a hurricane this year could set back Barbados by as much as five years, if the country was not prepared.
He recalled Grenada’s experience with Hurricane Ivan, and said that the scale of devastation that affected that country was shocking.
“There was no government in place for one week and that has stayed with me in planning. As a Government, if we are struck by a disaster we should have the ability to respond, so I take my responsibility very seriously. I want that if we are struck we have the capacity to ensure that there is no vacuum,” Brathwaite said.
Hanley lamented that issues related to disaster management were not “up front and centre” every day, and therefore were not considered a priority. However, he noted that training and exercises were important for disaster management.
The high commissioner gave the assurance that he would take the minister’s concerns of disaster management into consideration, as Canada wanted to improve the “already good relationship” between the two countries.
Hanley also assured the island’s Attorney General that the high commission stood ready to assist and urged him to call on them whenever the need arose.
Issues of judicial reform and alternate dispute resolution were among other matters discussed during the visit.