Barbados will soon be home to a World Food Programme logistics hub which is able to 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 within the vicinity of the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) where the programme will arrange its hub giving it easy accessibility to the runway, Barbados’ network and the remainder of the Caribbean.
In the course of the signing of the agreement for the hub and leasing of the land on the ministry’s Conference Room within the Jones Constructing, Webster Business Park, St Michael, on Friday, Abrahams said the foremost component of the hub can be a big warehouse that may allow the World Food Programme to pre-position food and other obligatory supplies for the aftermath of a disaster.
He said a training centre and offices have also been included within the design of the power.
“It’ll be a large facility that permits for training. We plan to do serious training there in disaster management, disaster resilience, all related fields and it’s going to be a large warehouse that is just not only for Barbados, but in addition for the remainder of the Caribbean and in some cases it would get into the central Americas if obligatory.
“Simply to put it in context for you, after a disaster, you get the problems 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 each time that a hurricane hits, governments promise, or organisations promise, but then you’ve the problems of how does it move from point A to B, who’s answerable for coordinating. So we hope to eliminate lots of that by pre-positioning supplies in a structured and cohesive and comprehensive manner so that everyone knows the stuff is here in Barbados, where can we go from here,” Abrahams said.
The minister said the Government intends to play its role within the logistics hub for the good thing about 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 within the region was lacking.
Chapman recalled that though the response mobilised in 2017 could possibly be regarded as impressive, it was evident that the World Food Programme’s understanding of the Caribbean was not as strong because it needed to be to get a greater job done. This led to the opening of an office in Barbados in 2018, based on the island’s leadership role in disaster management within the region.
Chapman noted that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) based in Barbados also played a significant role in the choice to determine the logistics hub on the island.
“We saw that leadership again throughout the COVID-19 response when Barbados led the charge of mobilising Caribbean SIDS [Small Island Developing States] to accumulate the entire obligatory personal protective equipment and all of the obligatory supplies initially. 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 within the region. We feel that this logistics hub will provide that missing piece of the puzzle,” Chapman said. (AH)