Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, has urged the Barbados government to reinstate the National Catastrophe Fund, once mechanisms for its use have been developed.
He made the call on a recent visit to Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson, and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Celia Pollard-Jones.
Jackson noted that Barbados currently relied on the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CRIF) in the event of damage or loss being experienced following a natural disaster, but warned that it should be seen as a last resort.
He told the Minister that previously, Barbados was “triggering” funds for non-catastrophes such as Tropical Storm Matthew.
“Barbados needs to look at its triggering point. You don’t want to claim for rainfall and wind damage,” he stressed, as he advised that Barbados needs to adjust its policy to reflect the trigger in keeping with the losses likely to be sustained.
CDEMA’s Deputy Executive Director Elizabeth Riley, who accompanied Jackson on the courtesy call to Hinkson, further explained that CRIF was a parametric trigger which had no relation to the impact sustained. She used the example of Dominica, which received a payout from the Fund to the tune of US$19 million, but sustained US$1.3 billion in damages.
“You need to have your own fund because the CRIF will not cover all the costs you will experience,” Riley advised.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet of Barbados was also urged to give consideration to establishing a Continuity of Government plan, which would indicate how the leadership of the country would be secured in the aftermath of a disaster, and the challenges of communication to be used.
Such a plan, Jackson said, would be enacted if the key ministries which ensured that the country continued to function were impacted.
He noted that the Governments of Dominica, Grenada, Haiti and the British Virgin Islands experienced challenges in getting back up and running following disasters in those respective nations.
Minister Hinkson acknowledged the concerns raised and said his ministry would look into them. He noted that Government was looking to implement a Roof Repair Programme to the tune of BDS$5 million (US$1=BDS$2), as the Building Act was expected to be brought to Parliament soon.
The Minister added that government had also committed to devising a regime for those with chattel houses valued at BDS$225,000 or less, to have insurance.
“We must not be naive to think that we will solve these problems overnight,” Hinkson submitted.
Other matters discussed included CDEMA’s role in responding to disasters throughout its member states and matters relating to funding.