Disaster preparedness and response plans for Barbados and other regional states were strengthened in a significant way on Wednesday, because 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 accomplished, the ability will function a vital logistical launching point throughout the Caribbean when disasters hit.
“This facility will likely be the primary of its kind within the region and it is going to serve because the central location for the facilitation of coordinated efforts and responses within the event of emergencies. This facility is a welcomed addition for Barbados and the Caribbean region, and can provide appropriate warehousing and training solutions, specializing in the enhancement of the Caribbean’s preparedness and response mechanisms,” he explained during a temporary 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 point of interest for the synchronisation of responses and transport solutions in emergency situations, and can place Barbados on the centre of those 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 trendy facility which is aimed toward strengthening and streamlining disaster response throughout the region.
Minister Abrahams said providing supportive frameworks to help Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with their food security needs was also an area by which the ability would assist logistically, given the small land space the Caribbean holds in comparison with other territories and the rising numbers of Caribbean residents reported to be in food insecure conditions attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic and other aspects.
“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 a rise of a million people compared to an identical compiled study in April 2020.
“To place that in perspective, over the course of two years, the individuals who’re classified as food insecure within the Caribbean rose by a million individuals. This rise in numbers might be attributed to the numerous setbacks the region has experienced over time, including natural disasters and health challenges equivalent to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Home Affairs Minister added that the Caribbean Regional Logistics Hub and Centre of Excellence will likely be a state-of-the facility that may consist of three zones, with specific responsibilities for training and response, storage and operations, and storage capability.
The temperature-controlled 2 500-square metre warehouse is designed to maximise flexibility and to supply open space for multi-function use.
“The power will likely be designed with emergency response and adaptability as a priority, with provision also allocated for administrative management services. The establishment of this facility will subsequently be of great profit to small island developing states like ours, and is not going to only enhance our emergency response efforts, but ensure a more proactive approach to disaster preparedness and response,” Minister Abrahams added. (SB)