Funding to Caribbean nations may be in danger if governments do not exercise greater transparency.
This from head of the European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Mikael Barfod. Addressing disaster risk management stakeholders gathered today at Hilton Barbados at Needham’s Point, St Michael, for the 2014 Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Programming Consultation, Barfod stated that in his opinion the region lacked not only in transparency as it related to the disaster risk management (DRM) sector, but also in good governance.
Calling for there to be an improved collection and sharing of globally comparable data on disaster losses and hazards, he further admonished such governments like St Lucia and St Vincent, that seven months after floods there, had yet to conduct after-action reviews.
Barfod stated this was very important for the EU, especially because it was willing to play an active role in supporting the region in creating a culture of resilience and ambition, evident by the recent signing of some €20 million in support of the CDM strategy.
“We will only be able to justify further funding in support to DRM for the Caribbean if we can demonstrate that results have been achieved,” he said, as he called for disaster management needs to be placed firmly on the agenda of the region’s finance and economic development ministers, along with the Caribbean countries’ commitment to achieving the objectives and expected results set out in the CDM strategy.
The EU representative further said there were several points the EU considered critical for the region to review. He implored Caribbean governments to adopt non-binding standards for advancing the implementation of the new strategy. Moreover, he called for periodic peer reviews to learn from each other and help every country to strive for best practice.
“Focus needs to be put on results by setting up action-oriented targets and measurable deeds to reduce disaster risks, putting in place risk assessments and early warning systems, identifying gaps and measures to fill them. There is an opportunity to make disaster risk reduction [DRR] contribute to sustainable and smart growth. The potential for productive investments in DRR that contribute to growth, jobs and competitiveness is enormous: infrastructure needs to be risk sensitive and climate and disaster resilient. We need to engage the business community, and in particular the insurance/reinsurance industry; and encourage the use of innovative technologies and instruments to support disaster management,” he said.
“Every year there are a certain [number] of rather general predictions about the upcoming hurricane season. I would pay less attention to these than to preparing your area for a disaster . . . . As the saying goes, ‘God helps those who help themselves’. Disasters in the Caribbean are more than hurricanes. The good news is we have been better prepared than in 2002 [but] the bad news is we are living in an increasingly fragile world.
“Climate change, urbanization, population growth and environmental degradation mean that the frequency and intensity of disasters and their impacts have risen steadily over recent decades, and will most likely continue to do so.
“In a world of changing climate there is simply no way to win the development war and the war against poverty without building more resilient communities and countries. Against this background, the new Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Strategy offers a unique opportunity for the region to shift the paradigm of its approach in dealing with risks in today’s increasingly complex and fragile world. It is only by enhancing the prevention, preparation, mitigation, response and recovery capacity in relation to disasters, that we will strengthen progress and stability in the region,” Barfod stressed.