Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation

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Call to support SIDs as hurricane season begins

May 31, 2024

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has called for urgent global support for small island developing states (SIDS) disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis, including many now bracing for what is expected to be an intense and destructive Atlantic hurricane season.

Several government leaders from the Caribbean and the Pacific, who attended the fourth International Conference on SIDS that ended here on Thursday night, met with the WFP delegation, led by its executive director, Cindy McCain, highlighting the need to address the existential threats faced by SIDS and to seize opportunities for resilient and sustainable development in these regions.

They noted that  SIDS are in the crossfire of multiple crises; the climate crisis, the socio-economic fallout from the pandemic, fragile ecosystems, a heavy reliance on food imports, and high debt burdens.

“Small island developing states are right on the frontlines of the global climate crisis, even though they have done almost nothing to cause it, and face growing threats to the lives and livelihoods of their communities. Island nations urgently need global support to protect themselves from severe climate and economic shocks,” warned McCain.

“We must come together and address these challenges head-on to help build resilience and give vulnerable communities the tools they need to thrive,” she added.

The SIDS conference ended as the hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30. 

This year it is forecast to be one of the most active on record, further endangering the fragile balance of these nations.

The WFP is working with governments in the region on emergency preparedness, strategically positioning food supplies in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti while working with local suppliers in other Caribbean countries to rapidly mobilise food in emergencies.

WFP said it is also enhancing early warning systems and preparedness measures, including insurance programmes that ensure vulnerable communities stay secure and recover swiftly when hit by storms and hurricanes.

WFP said it helps countries build their capacity, using data, such as monitoring and geographic information systems, so that governments can make informed decisions and rapidly deliver assistance where it is needed.

“After enduring the impacts of prolonged droughts and excessive rains caused by El Niño, we are now facing a hurricane season predicted to be well above average. We’ve mobilised teams across the region for this difficult year,” said Lola Castro, WFP’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We will ensure that when the next storm hits, the preparedness and response systems we’ve put in place with governments in recent years help save lives and ensure the recovery of affected communities,” Castro added.

WFP uses drones and Artificial Intelligence to provide rapid, comprehensive assessments of structural damage following disasters. In the Dominican Republic, this technology reduced damage assessment times from weeks to hours following Hurricane Fiona in 2022, enabling a faster and more accurate response.

WFP is also constructing a Caribbean logistics hub in Barbados to mobilize emergency supplies during disasters.

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