At a time when the people of Bahamas are being affected by one of the deadliest hurricanes to ever hit the CARICOM nation, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) have officially entered a partnership to boost the region’s humanitarian relief efforts.
UNFPA and CDEMA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow CARICOM member nations to assist each other in responding to emergency situations based on their capabilities.
The MOU paves the way for sharing information and best practices, training and joint operations, and projects to foster Comprehensive Disaster Management. The signing took place at CDEMA’s Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St Michael headquarters.
CDEMA’S Executive Director Ronald Jackson told journalists the partnership was focused on addressing the needs of planning for and preparing adequately to support the populations affected by adverse conditions.
He said: “We are not only looking at it from a point of view of providing the response support.
“We are also ensuring that we are preparing the minds and building the capacities of member states to also change behaviour and culture to one that is a population that is prepared to face these onslaughts, a population is able to reduce the level of vulnerability to these conditions that they face.
“So this partnership really is about continuing to build and to enhance the capacity of the Caribbean to deal with the needs of every individual and to address those areas that we know are sometimes left out in response.
“We are looking not only at the people who are in the disaster scenario itself, but we are looking also at how we prepare the teams to enter these particular spaces.”
The UNFPA’s sub-regional director for the Caribbean Alison Drayton said the agencies have worked actively together on a number of disaster situations in the region, especially within the OECS and in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
In June, UNFPA collaborated with CDEMA to deliver training modules to over 30 first-line responders from the CARICOM Disaster Relief Unit (CDRU) on reproductive health and rights in emergencies and gender-based violence prevention and response.
Drayton said this is part of ongoing support to CDEMA to build the capacity of the CDRU to adopt a human rights approach in its humanitarian response.
She said: “Over the past few days, we have been working very closely with CDEMA and partners in preparation to respond to the needs of the affected populations in the Bahamas currently being impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
“As the global lead of the GBV [Gender Based Violence] Area of Responsibility, we are ready to support CDEMA in the coordination and collaboration on GBV prevention and response in the collective response to Hurricane Dorian.” (AH)