NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, departed New Providence on Wednesday, June 26, for Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, ahead of the first Regional Symposium on Shock-Responsive Social Protection in the Caribbean.
Minister Campbell received an invitation from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to attend the symposium. He was accompanied to the Turks and Caicos Islands by the Director of the Department of Social Services, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Mrs. Lillian Quant-Forbes. The Bahamian delegation will also comprise Mrs. Cheryl Darville, Under Secretary, Cabinet Office, and Captain Stephen Russell, Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Hosted by the United Nations World Food Programme, in collaboration with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, and the Government of Turks and Caicos Islands, the symposium will be held Thursday, June 27, and will bring together ministers, senior government officials and representatives of regional and international organizations to explore issues, options and best practices for building regional resilience in the face of existing hazards.
It further aims to introduce innovative perspectives and approaches in the realms of disaster risk reduction, public policy, social protection and climate risk financing and also aims to inform future line of actions for a more integrated developmental and humanitarian ecosystem in the Caribbean.
The symposium is part of WFP’s Caribbean Emergency Preparedness and Response programme, in support of CDEMA and Participating States to minimize the impact of shocks on vulnerable populations by strengthening systems and technical capacities for a more effective, cost-efficient and predictable response to emergencies.
It is also a part of the process towards building a safer, more resilient, and sustainable Caribbean by strengthening the linkages between Disaster Risk Management & Social Protection in order to protect lives and livelihoods and assist crisis-affected people with greater efficiency, efficacy and equity.
An end result is to mainstream social protection within regional and national disaster management plans, frameworks and strategies, with respect to five technical areas for preparedness and collaboration. These include data management, targeting, delivery mechanisms, coordination and financing.
Participating islands/countries include The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“We are in the Hurricane Zone and so it is expected that, as a country, we are always prepared,” Minister Campbell said. “As the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development with responsibility for shelter management during a disastrous event/emergency; social assistance in the aftermath of one; and as the Minister responsible for the elderly and the indigent, I accepted CDEMA’s invitation to attend as this is a timely and significant event which I believe can help us to augment and enhance the efforts that we make on an annual basis.
“I am quite satisfied that we will find some benchmarks and best practices that we can bring back home and utilize if necessary.”
Minister Campbell said the Ministry’s participation in the symposium speaks to how tightly social services and urban development has been interwoven and integrated into every aspect of Bahamian society.
“I always say that social services is involved in one facet or the other of the Bahamian society from the womb to the tomb. My invitation from CDEMA to attend the symposium, in addition to the Director’s attendance at the symposium, further illustrates that,” Minister Campbell added.
A United Nations World Food Programme-commissioned regional study in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) 4 indicates that social protection can ensure adequate coverage and level of support in the event of an emergency; provide a quicker, more predictable, sustainable and efficient transfer of assistance; ensure that crisis-affected people and households are not pushed further into chronic poverty, and increase the overall confidence of affected people in the response.
The Report further went on to say that though the recognition of Social Protection as a primary strategy to reduce vulnerabilities and risks is widely accepted, its utilization as a frontline instrument contributing to emergency responses and recovery efforts in Small Islands Development States has so far consisted of ad-hoc measures, with limited disaster response integration and preparedness investments needed to bring it at scale when appropriate and required. Officials say the symposium is a first step in that direction.
This article was written by Matt Maura – Bahamas Information Services.