NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Jack Thompson, redevelopment coordinator for Abaco, said yesterday he is confident Bahamians have the ability to manage food-assistance as the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) prepares its exit from The Bahamas in early December
“They had a training session today where several Bahamians were identified and participated in a rather extensive training program, so that the work and the program itself will continue beyond their departure,” Thompson told Eyewitness News Online.
“…It speaks to the fact that we are preparing for transitioning and not only for now, but even in the future, should we have any sort of disasters like this and it becomes necessary to implement or to cause a program like this to be had, we will be in a position to do so.
Thompson said about five individuals were involved in the training.
Last month, Eyewitness News Online reported that the need for food-assistance tripled in Abaco, prompting food security concerns as officials recorded an influx of people returning to the storm-torn island.
The number of people that received assistance from the WFP mushroomed from around 2,100 people in September to around 6,100 in October.
At the time, that WFP representative expressed concern over the government’s plan to maintain food security, citing the organization’s role as a “glue” between different agencies.
Thompson said yesterday Bahamians are up to the task.
“The training program went on very, very well,” he said.
“There is the handover of the various documents.
“[WFP] were basically involved in the logistics because as you know they dealt with food items that were purchased by NEMA and those items which were donated.
“…These are experienced persons. These are persons who would have done this around the world, globally, and so their experience went a long way with assisting us with the distribution and the orderly process with respect to food items.
“So I am satisfied that we have Bahamians who are up to the task.
“I am satisfied that Bahamians certainly can and are more than able to carry on the program beyond their departure date or exit date from The Bahamas.”
Thompson added that WFP representatives will remain in the country for a few additional days in order to monitor the transition.
According to a November 14 situation report by the WFP, 6,600 people were included in the plan for food assistance in November.
“The largest supermarket in the Abacos has resumed operations on a restricted schedule, resulting in improved access to food,” the report noted.
“[However], sources of livelihoods and incomes remain a concern.”
The organization noted that food assistance continues to be provided throughout the affected areas and multipurpose cash assistance is also being provided in areas with greater market functionality.
This is expected to continue to scale up as capacities are put in place and market functionality resumes.
WFP said it is working with the Bahamas government and partners on potential market-based assistance programs to allow affected households to transition from hot meals.
“WFP continues to support the government-led response with 11 staff in Nassau, New Providence and Marsh Harbour, Abaco islands,” the report added.
“The two teams provide technical expertise in food security and logistics coordination which includes facilitating sea and land transportation.
“WFP has supported NEMA and other government entities in storing, handling and shipping 360 metric tons of food and relief items from Nassau to the affected islands.”