Barbados will soon be home to a World Food Programme logistics hub which will make it easier for food supplies to be transported to Caribbean countries impacted by natural disasters.
Minister of Home Affairs and Information Wilfred Abrahams announced that land has been identified in the vicinity of the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) where the programme will set up its hub giving it easy access to the runway, Barbados’ network and the rest of the Caribbean.
During the signing of the agreement for the hub and leasing of the land at the ministry’s Conference Room in the Jones Building, Webster Business Park, St Michael, on Friday, Abrahams said the main component of the hub will be a large warehouse that will allow the World Food Programme to pre-position food and other necessary supplies for the aftermath of a disaster.
He said a training centre and offices have also been included in the design of the facility.
“It is going to be a massive facility that allows for training. We plan to do serious training there in disaster management, disaster resilience, all related fields and it’s going to be a massive warehouse that is not just for Barbados, but also for the rest of the Caribbean and in some cases it might get into the central Americas if necessary.
“Just to put it in context for you, after a disaster, you get the issues of where to send the stuff, how the stuff gets from point A to point B.
“We had it recently with the eruption in St Vincent. And every time that a hurricane hits, governments promise, or organisations promise, but then you have the issues of how does it move from point A to B, who is responsible for coordinating. So we hope to eliminate a lot of that by pre-positioning supplies in a structured and cohesive and comprehensive manner so that everybody knows the stuff is here in Barbados, where do we go from here,” Abrahams said.
The minister said the Government intends to play its role in the logistics hub for the benefit of Barbadians and other Caribbean nationals.
Representative and Country Director for the World Food Programme Regis Chapman recalled that in 2017 when hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated neighbouring countries, particularly Dominica, it became clear that the programme’s presence in the region was lacking.
Chapman recalled that even though the response mobilised in 2017 could be considered as impressive, it was evident that the World Food Programme’s understanding of the Caribbean was not as strong as it needed to be to get a better job done. This led to the opening of an office in Barbados in 2018, based on the island’s leadership role in disaster management in the region.
Chapman noted that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) based in Barbados also played a major role in the decision to establish the logistics hub on the island.
“We saw that leadership again during the COVID-19 response when Barbados led the charge of mobilising Caribbean SIDS [Small Island Developing States] to acquire all of the necessary personal protective equipment and all the necessary supplies at the beginning. So we worked very closely with CDEMA at that stage and it was clear that there was a missing piece to the puzzle for disaster management in the region. We feel that this logistics hub will provide that missing piece of the puzzle,” Chapman said. (AH)