Tropical Storm Kirk brought damage but also a $11.6 million (US$5.8 million) pay cheque in its wake, courtesy the world’s first multi-country risk insurance pool.
After being presented with the cheque from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Fund (CCRIF) during a brief ceremony in the Parliament Building, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said it was regrettable the circumstances under which the money had been paid out.
“This was occasioned by the excess rainfall experienced by the storm Kirk and the damage that the country would have suffered as a result,” Mottley told reporters in the East Wing Committee Room of Parliament.
“Every dollar in damage for a country that is in a tight fiscal situation, is a dollar that we really would have preferred not to lose. And, therefore to have this sum coming back to us to help us offset some of the damage you saw . . . when we went into Kingsland . . . St Philip . . . [and] The City of Bridgetown . . . the Ministry of Public Works is working assiduously to be able to expand the canal in Murphy’s Pasture [in Emmerton, The City] . . . . It is simply too shallow; and anything that shallow and that narrow will lead to flooding for a number of houses on the perimeter of Murphy Pasture,” said Mottley.
While Barbados continues to pay its annual insurance premium of $8 million (US$4.2 million) to CCRIF and has not been drawing down because it has not suffered from adverse weather impacts every year, the Prime Minister is hoping another storm does not affect the country in a hurry again.
“The reality is that we are living in a world where such adverse weather events are now regrettably becoming a norm because of climate change. And we have therefore to continue to strengthen the work of CCRIF, but in addition to that we have also to take our own actions to be able to mitigate the negative impact of these events,” the Prime Minister added.
Barbados has a drainage problem and fixing it is a priority for her Government, the Prime Minister stated.
“Barbados in particular has to come to grips with being able to deal with its drainage. Last night was another perfect example of it. Two hours of rain and the west coast between 11, 12 o’clock -we left Cabinet after 10:30 last night . . . The west coast was flooded. Now, mercifully, the water runs off equally quickly in most areas, but it does damage to some before running off,” the Government leader explained.
The Prime Minister said the Government knows where the problem areas are and has to treat them as a necessity.
“In this particular instance, my Government is of the view that our ability to address the country’s drainage issues is a priority. It is not going to be resolved overnight because it has been elusive for whatever reasons for . . . over 40 years. We have enough studies, but we have to treat to it in a strategic manner,” she said.
The Prime Minister said she has spoken to the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance about doing “simple” things like cleaning the sides of the roads and areas which could lead to flooding.
But she contended that flood protection is not only the responsibility of Government but also of all land owners.
“I suspect that the Ministry of Public Works will be writing major landowners and plantation owners et cetera to help play their part . . . to help continue to do the kind of good husbandry that used to be done in the past when the plantations were active. Similarily, there are wells that are no longer functional, once again because the plantations are not working in the way that they used to say 20, 30 years ago,” Mottley said.
The Government leader told reporters while it works to address the drainage problem, her administration would need outside help as well as the assistance of every Barbadian.
“Because if every Barbadian simply cleaned up around their property – I keep making the point – many hands make light work. And at this time when we are trying to get out of a deep hole we need all Barbadians to come together and do these simple things to help make a difference to the quality of life,” she added.
The Chief Executive Officer of CCRIF, Isaac Anthony, revealed that since 2007, the insurance fund has made 37 payouts totalling US$136.3 million to 30 member-governments, including US$62 million paid out only last year as a result of Irma, Maria and a big rainfall event in Trinidad.
CCRIF stands ready to support Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, which have declared the bold ambition to make the region the first climate resilient zone in the world, he said.
“As CCRIF enters its second decade of operations, we are focusing on scaling up. We have seen that this particular model works very well
. . .and the real benefit [is] not so much that we are making payouts, but we are making a payout in quick time . . .within 14 days of the event,” he said.
The Pacific, with its Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) Insurance Programme, has since followed the Caribbean in running a regional insurance risk pool. (EJ)