CARICOM: Relief Response Accelerated for St. Vincent’s Volcano Crisis

 recent volcanic eruptions and activity that started on April 9 at the La Soufrière volcano volcano in St. Vincent
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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is scrambling to address the fallout from the recent volcanic eruptions and activity that started on April 9 at the La Soufrière volcano volcano in St. Vincent, which has caused serious ecological devastation and forced portions of the island to be evacuated.

In recognition of the need to streamline the Regional Private Sector’s extraordinary individual and collective response to the devastation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and enhance the inter-agency coordination in times of disaster, the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO), the Caribbean Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) and the Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM) convened a meeting on April 16th 2021 with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The Meeting sought to address the efficient coordination and delivery of relief goods and services by the private sector to the affected group and locations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

At the joint meeting, there were several critical areas identified for greater cooperation. Addressing critical implementation issues regarding the provisions of services and equipment, particularly, the supply, transportation, and distribution of water; earth-moving and excavation services; and logistical support. With the understanding that the Private Sector is in a position to provide these services, commitments were made to strengthen the partnership between CDEMA and the regional private sector, particularly with the response to regional emergencies as they arise. Specific to the current crisis, the private sector received an updated needs list for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and guidance with regards to monetary contributions.

Consideration for the evolving needs of other nations such as Barbados and Saint Lucia, affected by the explosive eruption, the consequent pyroclastic flows and volcanic ash fall was discussed, as was the need for coordination with the clean-up effort and the distribution of water in these Islands.

The meeting, which was extremely successful, marked a shift in the cooperation framework between the regional private sector and CDEMA. It was the first time that all Caribbean Private Sector Agencies were brought together on the same platform with CARICOM’s principal coordinator of the regional response to natural disasters. Accordingly, the arrangements under this greater degree of cooperation will be institutionalized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the CPSO and CDEMA, ensuring effective and efficient regional disaster response.

CPSO remains committed to working with CDEMA to support resource mobilisation and information sharing as together we lend critical assistance to the Government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as they cope with this crisis.

La Soufrière volcano

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