BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — The Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s (CDEMA) moved into a new US$4-million headquarters on Thursday despite a warning from the host country that the regional institution is “bleeding” and having difficulties in paying its day-to-day bills.
Barbados Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, speaking at the ceremony to mark the occasion, called on 18 member States to lend their support to the agency. He gave no details of the amount outstanding.
“I want to encourage my colleagues in the region to ensure that we are able to financially support CDEMA and its activities,” he said, noting that the international partners were saying that it was difficult for them to justify putting money into the Caribbean, when the region itself did not seem willing or able to give financial support to various agencies that was required.
He warned that the region could not signal that it was independent without looking within itself to ensure that it could do more within its people.
Braithwaite called on regional partners who had not yet paid their annual subscriptions for 2015 to CDEMA to do so, because there was still work to be done to furnish and outfit the building which was constructed with funds from the United States Southern Command.
The new building houses a Regional Training Centre, warehouse and the Regional Coordination Centre, and CDEMA Executive Director Ronald Jackson said the training centre would focus its efforts primarily on the delivery of standardised training.
He said this would include training in core areas such as emergency operations; contingency planning; disaster risk management and programme development; and management for Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM).
Jackson said the centre would also contribute to some of the outcomes outlined in the CDM Strategy 2014-24, which spoke directly to strengthening institutional arrangements for CDM in the region.
Jackson noted that since its inception, CDEMA had pursued a policy of collaboration with national, regional and international organisations towards the realisation of a safer, more resilient region.
American Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Larry Palmer, said the handover was the result of many years of hard work and close coordination between numerous groups and agencies including the Barbados Government, which provided the land and the United States Southern Command, which funded the project.
“The purpose of this facility is to help save lives, and that is a cause I believe we can all be proud to help support,” he added.