With the possibility of weather systems increasing in frequency and intensity, the region will need its funding partners now more than ever.
This is according to Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, who noted that one of the challenges the region was presently facing was a difficulty in accessing aid, especially when it was needed as much as it was 10 to 20 years ago.
He made these comments during the official opening session of the 2013 Comprehensive Disaster Management Programming Consultation at the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados today.
Noting that the Caribbean Development Bank’s 2012 annual report estimated that US$18 billion was paid out in direct damage to 17 of the borrowing countries, including Haiti over the last 25 years, Brathwaite said the area of disaster management did not attract the type of financial resources that it should.
“The irony is that in spite of our accomplishments over the last 21 years … we need our partners now more than ever… We need to find some mechanism for you our partners to work with us to ensure that there is no diminution of aid to us in the region,” he said.
Brathwaite challenged the partners to take a flight across the region, and they would recognise that there was still a lot of work to be done in the respective territories if they were to withstand natural or man-made disasters.
He also called on the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency not to lose sight of its responsibilities.
“I know and understand your challenges. Your challenges are no different from the challenges of many of our regional institutions. [There are] challenges of funding; challenges of retention of personnel; structural challenges; challenges in terms of ensuring that there is the right management structure in place.
“I understand how challenging it can be for you and your team from time to time and I know you would like to do more and be more responsive. I understand your fiscal challenges which can prevent you from doing more,” Brathwaite pointed out.
However, he stressed that the region needed CDEMA and a comprehensive disaster management response mechanism.
“The region cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that all of our growth and all of our gains can be liquidated or reduced by just one event. I want to charge your partners to work with you continuously so you can continue to discharge your responsibility to the region,” the attorney general said.