Disaster preparedness and response plans for Barbados and other regional states were strengthened in a major way on Wednesday, as the first-of-its-kind Caribbean Regional Logistics Hub and Centre of Excellence was officially launched here.
Minister of Home Affairs and Information Wilfred Abrahams said that when completed, the facility will serve as an important logistical launching point within the Caribbean when disasters hit.
“This facility will be the first of its kind in the region and it will serve as the central location for the facilitation of coordinated efforts and responses in the event of emergencies. This facility is a welcomed addition for Barbados and the Caribbean region, and will provide appropriate warehousing and training solutions, focusing on the enhancement of the Caribbean’s preparedness and response mechanisms,” he explained during a brief ceremony that took place on grounds owned by the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).
“This facility, which is eagerly anticipated across the region, will provide the focal point for the synchronisation of responses and transport solutions in emergency situations, and will place Barbados at the centre of these coordinated activities.”
Officials from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), European Union (EU), and Canadian Embassy, whose agencies funded the initiative, attended the launch of the modern facility which is aimed at strengthening and streamlining disaster response within the region.
Minister Abrahams said providing supportive frameworks to assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with their food security needs was also an area in which the facility would assist logistically, given the small land space the Caribbean holds compared to other territories and the rising numbers of Caribbean citizens reported to be in food insecure conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.
“In a study by CARICOM [the Caribbean Community] and the United Nations World Food Programme in April 2022, it was estimated that 2.8 million people, who account for around 40 per cent of the English-speaking Caribbean, were food insecure,” he said, noting that represented an increase of one million people when compared to a similar compiled study in April 2020.
“To put that in perspective, over the course of two years, the persons who are classified as food insecure in the Caribbean rose by one million persons. This rise in numbers can be attributed to the many setbacks the region has experienced over time, including natural disasters and health challenges such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Home Affairs Minister added that the Caribbean Regional Logistics Hub and Centre of Excellence will be a state-of-the facility that will consist of three zones, with specific responsibilities for training and response, storage and operations, and storage capacity.
The temperature-controlled 2 500-square metre warehouse is designed to maximise flexibility and to provide open space for multi-function use.
“The facility will be designed with emergency response and flexibility as a priority, with provision also allocated for administrative management services. The establishment of this facility will therefore be of great benefit to small island developing states like ours, and will not only enhance our emergency response efforts, but ensure a more proactive approach to disaster preparedness and response,” Minister Abrahams added. (SB)