Bahamas + 8 more

Strengthening disaster management capacity in the Caribbean region


Location of operation:CARIBBEAN

Amount of decision: EUR 500,000

Decision reference number: ECHO/-CR/BUD/2005/01000

Explanatory Memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population:

1.1. - Rationale:

The Caribbean region is highly prone to natural disasters. Tropical storms, often taking the form of a hurricane, are annual, cyclical and, in a way, predictable bringing with them landslides and flooding. On some islands, volcanic activity and risk of an earthquake is also a hazard. The physical risk combined with socioeconomic factors such as high population density, high annual demographic growth, high levels of poverty and socio-economic inequality renders populations very vulnerable to disasters.

The 2004 hurricane season has tragically demonstrated the Caribbean region's exposure and vulnerability to disaster. The hurricanes and tropical storms which devastated Grenada and parts of Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas claimed more than 3,000 lives. In addition, some 2,000 people perished in floods in South-eastern Haiti, which occurred even before the official start of the hurricane season. In Guyana, the most severe floods recorded in more than 100 years devastated the coastal areas in January 2005, taking communities that were not prepared to face such a disaster off guard.

The Red Cross has always been at the forefront in responding to disasters as demonstrated by the impressive list of interventions in 2004:

May 2004 - Floods in Dominican Republic and Haiti

August 2004 - Hurricane Charley in Jamaica, Cayman Island and Cuba

August 2004 - Hurricane Frances in Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and Bahamas

September 2004 - Hurricane Ivan in Grenada, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cuba and Mexico

September 2004 - Hurricane Jeanne in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Bahamas

As in other parts of the world the National Red Cross Societies in the disaster affected countries are supported by the Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). To respond more effectively to natural disasters occurring in the Caribbean and in Latin America, IFRC have established the so-called Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) which acts as IFRC's disaster response coordination arm in the regions covered by its mandate. Should National Societies so wish PADRU can lead, coordinate and manage any disaster response of the Federation in support of an affected National Red Cross Society.

Furthermore PADRU contributes to the implementation of regional disaster preparedness programmes in the region. PADRU's role is the provision of technical support to response preparedness in the form of disaster management tools and systems that may be called upon in an emergency.

These tools and systems which have been developed by ICRC, based on the experience IFRC gained over the years in responding to natural disasters, have demonstrated their added value in many events. Examples of such instruments are:

- Disaster Preparedness tools such as Vulnerability and Capacity Assessments (VCA) and guidelines for the Well Prepared National Society (WPNS).

- Rapid response in natural disasters through well-prepared NS coordinated by the Federation's secretariat.

- Mobilization and coordination of trained national, regional and international NS teams and tools in the form of Field Assessment & Coordination Teams (FACT) National Society Intervention Teams, Regional Disaster Response Teams (RDRT), and specialised technical Emergency Response Units (ERU), Logistics etc.

- Disaster information to support assessments, strategic operational decision-making, and coherent coordination and planning. The IFRC Disaster Information Management System (DMIS) is such a tool.

The purpose of this funding decision is to support PADRU in fulfilling its role in the Caribbean region in particular with regard to its mandate to support the National Societies in reducing risk, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. As such, the funding decision supports PADRU's appeal for 2005 (Appeal No. 05AA040) as far as the Caribbean is concerned.

1.2. - Identified needs:

The need to have an effective disaster response capacity in place in a region as exposed to disasters as the Caribbean is obvious and undisputed. With their universal mandate and presence the Red Cross is well placed to provide disaster response. This is particularly true in the many Caribbean states where governments do not have sufficient capacity to manage response in the event of a disaster.

The ongoing development, training and integration of disaster management tools and systems (see above) used by IFRC in support of the National Societies in the Caribbean are complex and time-consuming processes. They require constant updating, refining and refreshing, and the staff which deploy and implement them need constant training to ensure appropriate use before, during and after disasters as each new disaster brings new challenges and lessons that need to be absorbed into the system.

Key areas that are being addressed by PADRU and which require ongoing development are as follows:

- Preparedness, i.e. the level of preparedness to manage the disaster.

- Response, i.e. adequacy and timeliness of the response.

- Capacity building, i.e. to ensure that the activities and response operations improve local response capacity.

- Co-ordination, i.e. internal coordination and efficiency of the services used between National Societies and the Secretariat of the Federation; and coordination with non-Red Cross systems.

1.3. - Target population and regions concerned:

The decision will target the entire Caribbean region. Eventually, the support IFRC will be giving – through PADRU – to the National Societies in the region will work towards protecting the lives of the most vulnerable populations of their countries.

Antigua and Barbuda
Saint-Kitts and Nevis
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Dominican Republic
Turks and Caicos Islands
Dutch Antilles
Total Caribbean

1.4. - Risk assessment and possible constraints:

In case of natural disaster occurring in the region, the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) will need to support emergency operations as it is the main Red Cross tool to manage disasters in the Caribbean. This will not necessarily mean that the project might be suspended, but delays could occur if a major natural disaster occurs in the region. In the case of Haiti, PADRU is not directly responsible for the implementation of emergency operations, diminishing the risks of implementing delays.