Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, making a point during yesterday's press briefing. Looking on is Dr. Winston Garraway, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Grenada, responsible for Disaster Management and Information and Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee of the CDEMA.

CDEMA Member States urged to pay up

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) needs Member States to meet their financial obligations so that it can in turn satisfy its mandate and respond to countries
if disaster strikes.

That’s the message being sent to them by Dr. Winston Garraway, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Grenada, responsible for Disaster Management and Information and Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the CDEMA.

In a press briefing yesterday afternoon at Baobab Tower where the 8th Meeting of the TAC was taking place, Garraway told reporters that while CDEMA is well poised to continue to respond to whatever hazard may affect the region, a lack of adequate financing continues to negatively impact their work. As such, he is calling on Member States to meet their promised contributions, so as to guarantee CDEMA continues to be funded.

“We are making do with what we have. Let’s look at last year, the Agency was called to respond to Hurricane Matthew and you would remember the impact of Hurricane Matthew in The Bahamas and Haiti. To deploy teams to do the necessary assessments and the like would have cost in the region of 600 000 Barbadian dollars. That could have been a big chunk of monies that we had to find and I am saying here, if we are to respond adequately as an agency, our regional partners, the 18 states we are called to serve, would have to contribute more; would have to contribute towards making sure that the entity that has been created by the region, the CARICOM region, continues to do the job that it was mandated to do,” he said.

While the Grenada Cabinet Minister acknowledged that the challenges facing governments within the region with respect to financing and maintaining their economies, is no doubt one of the reasons why they are falling short of their financial commitments, he is adamant that if CDEMA is to fulfil the role it has been given by the same governments, it needs money.

“Hence the reason why I am making the plea at this point in time for Member States to at least come up to the plate and to give what they have agreed to in terms of pledges… Money answers everything, and if we do not have it, when we are called upon to respond, we will not be able to adequately respond. We do not want to be in that situation,” he maintained.

Adding to his comments, Executive Director of CDEMA, Ronald Jackson explained that the agency’s current operating cost, minus the financing of a robust regional response mechanism, is in the region of US $2.5 - $3 million per year. Meanwhile, he revealed that in respect of the regional response mechanism, they require at least a reserve pool of US $1 million, but he noted that if multiple disasters strike multiple countries that figure could very well not be enough.

“We can see multiple states being impacted by one event, and we can have multiple events in a year… So we have looked at a figure we want to be at, which is roughly US $1 million to have on call to ensure that the system can address those kinds of scenarios should they happen,” he said.

Jackson said that figure, which was set back in 1991, may change following a review currently being done on the regional response mechanisms. (JRT)

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