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Increasing Disaster Resilience in the Caribbean

USAID airlifted 47 metric tons of relief supplies to the Bahamas on September 4 to be distributed to communities in need. (Daniel Durazo/U.S. Embassy Nassau)

Total U.S. humanitarian assistance for Hurricane Dorian exceeded $34 million, and above and beyond that, early search and rescue efforts saved over 400 lives.

Increasing Disaster Resilience in the Caribbean
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In the Atlantic Ocean, extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity. In just the past two years, the Caribbean region was devastated by three immensely powerful hurricanes--Irma and Maria in 2017, and then in September 2019 by Dorian, the most powerful and destructive storm to ever strike The Bahamas, said USAID Administrator Mark Green.

The U.S. Government provided assistance after each of those storms. USAID “contributed more than 9.7 million dollars toward the Hurricane Irma and Maria responses, and more than 25.5 million dollars toward the Hurricane Dorian response.” In addition, air assets from the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations provided search and rescue, medical evacuations, and transport of Bahamian security personnel. Total U.S. humanitarian assistance for Hurricane Dorian exceeded $34 million, and above and beyond that, early search and rescue efforts saved over 400 lives.

There is an urgent need to improve the region’s preparedness and capacity to weather such devastating events. For this reason, the United States launched in April 2019 the U.S. Caribbean Resilience Partnership to bring together 18 Caribbean countries, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the eastern Caribbean’s Regional Security System, and more than ten U.S. federal agencies willing to cooperate and share expertise.

The United States is committed to working with our friends and partners in the Caribbean to build resilience against hurricanes and other natural disasters, said Administrator Green. “That means offering the tools that are necessary to reduce people's exposure to hazards, but also to help them prepare in advance when the disaster looms, and to better withstand the shocks that are likely to follow,” he said.

He then announced that USAID will invest another 10 million dollars to bolster disaster preparedness and response across the Caribbean. “These new resources will support activities that minimize the damage of disasters, reduce the loss of life, and enhance response efforts,” added USAID Administrator Green.

For example, on the local level, some of the USAID funds will go toward training for first responders, education and messaging, and the development of localized emergency response plans. At the national level, the funds will help to assure matching policies and operational procedures across agencies, and ensure that facilities and equipment meet international standards, said USAID Administrator Green.

Regionally, the funding will also support intergovernmental coordination and information sharing, helping each Caribbean country work together to overcome these shared threats.

Through these investments, USAID and the entire United States government are “committed to helping our partners across the Caribbean prepare for the worst and avert disasters before they occur,” he said. “I hope the message is clear. We will always stand with the people of the Caribbean when disaster strikes.”