United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green recently announced that his organisation will donate a grant of US$10 million to “priority countries in the Caribbean” for improving local resilience to disasters.
“Today, I’m excited to announce an additional $10-million investment to bolster disaster preparedness and response across the Caribbean. These new resources will support activities that minimise the damage of disasters, reduce the loss of life, and enhance response efforts,” Green stated while speaking in Bridgetown, Barbados, on December 16, 2019.
The donation will go towards supporting community-level organizations, host-country governments, regional institutions, and the private sector to strengthen local, national, and regional planning and preparation for hurricanes, earthquakes, and other calamities.
As part of the grant, USAID will finance training for local first responders, harmonise disaster-preparedness standards, and coordinate and facilitate information-sharing among the governments of the region and civil society.
“As the last few years have demonstrated, I think, nowhere is that capacity building more important or more urgent than in disaster preparedness and response. We have seen painfully how extreme weather events in the Caribbean are increasing in intensity and frequency. In 2017, it was Hurricanes Irma and Maria that devastated the region, and earlier this year, as we just heard reference to, it was Hurricane Dorian that struck the Bahamas,” the USAID administrator noted.
He added that the USAID provided US$9.7 million toward the Hurricane Irma and Maria responses, as well as over $25.5 million toward the Hurricane Dorian response. Furthermore, disaster experts from USAID conducted damage assessment in the affected islands in order to facilitate the delivery of emergency relief supplies.
With the framework of the US–Caribbean Resilience Partnership, USAID contributed US$2 million to the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology to enhance weather research and forecast systems across the region.
Green underscored the grant is an indication of the United States’ commitment to the people of the Caribbean, more specifically the US–Caribbean 2020 Strategy for Engagement and the US–Caribbean Resilience Partnership.
“I hope you will see proof of our commitment and our published US–Caribbean 2020 Strategy for Engagement. With this strategy, the Trump administration is working to enhance regional cooperation, increased trade and investment, and work to build capacity to tackle shared threats together. And as the previous speaker has said, these are shared threats; they affect all of us to one degree or another,” he said.
“…we’re equally committed to working with our friends and partners to build resilience against hurricanes and other natural disasters. And that means offering the tools that are necessary to reduce people’s exposure to hazards, but also to help them prepare in advance when the disaster looms, and to better withstand the shocks that are likely to follow,” Green emphasised.