Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, greets Canada’s Minister responsible for International Development, Harjit Sajjan. (Photo credit: C. Pitt/BGIS)
Barbados is seeking to improve its mitigation and adaptation measures to reduce and protect citizens from the impact of disaster.
Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, outlined this point during a recent visit from Canada’s Minister responsible for International Development, Harjit Sajjan.
They were joined by acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Marva Howell; acting Deputy Permanent Secretary, Curtis Gilkes; acting Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Captain Robert Harewood; Canadian High Commissioner, Lilian Chatterjee; Representative and Country Director of the World Food Programme Multi-Country Office for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, Regis Chapman, and other officials.
Mr. Abrahams outlined that Barbados had started a Hurricane Strap Programme in an effort to ensure that the roofs of homes could be outfitted with the straps.
He explained that following the passage of Hurricane Elsa, Government repaired and replaced homes that sustained damage mainly to their roofs.
He said it was at that time that it was recognised how vulnerable the roofs of some homes were, and how badly they were constructed.
“So, what we did was provide hurricane straps to prevent damage again,” he said, noting that intensive work would continue to be conducted before the start of the next hurricane season.
That, he said, was a process that involved the coordination of a number of government agencies, such as the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Maintenance and the DEM.
The Canadian Minister noted that Barbados’ efforts were great lessons, and added that similar measures were being undertaken in Canada, primarily as it relates to fires and floods. “We ensure that homes are built more resilient to fires,” he pointed out.
Mr. Chapman agreed that there is a need to provide financing up front to give countries the necessary assistance before there is a disaster.
He added that Barbados is the centre for disaster management in the region, and the proposed home of the Logistics Centre of Excellence and Hub Warehouse for Disaster Response and Mitigation for Territories in the Region.
Work on that project is expected to start in June. During the Canadian Minister’s visit, he and his team were also briefed on Barbados’ National Emergency Management System by Captain Harewood, and taken on a tour of DEM and its warehouse.
Author: Julia Rawlins-Bentham/BGIS