by Julia Rawlins-Bentham
Countries in the region are being called upon to address the $1.2 million in outstanding contributions owed to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, made the call, stressing that CDEMA could do a lot more for countries in the region if it was given the necessary resources.
He was at the time speaking during the opening ceremony of the Fifth Meeting of the Council of CDEMA at Hilton Barbados recently.
“I want to beseech you on behalf of CDEMA, on behalf of your individual countries, on behalf of this region, to let us see how we can address the financial woes that CDEMA is presently faced with,” Mr. Brathwaite pleaded.
He highlighted the fact that CDEMA did “tremendous” work over the years to ensure that the region was better able to withstand and respond to natural and man-made disasters.
Evidence of this, he noted, could be seen in the different levels of response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and last year’s flood events that affected Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. “One of the things from the Haiti experience in 2010 was that the region did not seem to respond with the kind of alacrity that we would have liked, and it was a signal that we had to learn from that experience,” he said.
He reminded the Ministers present that what affected one country could affect all, and therefore the approach to disaster preparedness needed to be a regional one. “That brings me to the importance of CDEMA and the importance of having a coordinated agency. The strength of the region is dictated by its weakest link,” Mr. Brathwaite noted.
He also told those present that they were all aware of the damage hazards could have on their individual and collective economies, and urged them to take home the message that more needed to be done to ensure the financial sustainability of CDEMA. “The Government of Barbados has made a significant contribution with land to CDEMA to ensure that its work continues…,” the Minister pointed out.
He stressed this was important to ensure that the region’s voice continued to be heard on issues related to comprehensive disaster management. “As a most hazard prone region, we cannot pass an opportunity to let our voice be heard because we have much more to lose than many of our global partners,” he stated.