Govt. pleads for lenient disaster funding from larger nations

Govt. pleads for lenient disaster funding from larger nations
Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs, Darren Henfield.

With the start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season fast approaching, and with many Family Islands still struggling to recuperate from recent catastrophic hurricanes, the government recently made a request to international financial powerhouse countries to consider being a little more lenient when deciding how they will distribute concessionary funding to small developing islands states (SIDS) in the wake of devastating natural disasters.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1 and forecasters are predicting an above average season.

In an effort to ensure that The Bahamas is well positioned to benefit from international concessionary funding, a request to shift the guidelines – which govern concessionary funding – was made at the most recent forum of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR).

Eyewitness News spoke with Minister of Foreign Affairs Darren Henfield, who is also the current COFCOR chairman – for an update on how successful The Bahamas has been in its petition.

“We believe that the international community, outside of the Caribbean region, is finally understanding our plight,” Henfield revealed.

“G8 countries, G20 countries, and even the Commonwealth, all agree that the measurements for Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), and measurements for concessionary loans to help recover after natural disasters, are not done on an equitable basis.

“So, we continue to persist. We believe we have gotten their attention based on some of the things we have heard coming out of Europe. We believe that they are seriously considering our plight in the Caribbean.”

Now that the country’s international counterparts are aware of The Bahamas’ plight, Henfield said that the government has decided to take a different approach to disaster preparedness this year.

“We have taken a different tact. When we see an impending storm approaching, we ask for help and assistance in advance of the storm; realizing fully that we are not sure how it will impact and affect us upon its arrival,” he shared.

“We are talking about the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK), Canada and others.”