The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) broke ground on Wednesday in Barbados at the site of its Caribbean regional logistics hub and centre of excellence, which will serve as an important launching point within the Caribbean when disasters hit.
The establishment of the facility is being made possible through a collaborative partnership between the WFP, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management (CDEMA), and the government of Barbados.
“This facility will be the first of its kind in the region and will serve as a central location for the facilitation of coordinated efforts and responses in the event of emergencies [and] natural disasters,” Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams said.
“The facility is a welcomed addition for Barbados and the Caribbean region, and it will provide appropriate warehousing and training solutions focussing on the enhancement of the Caribbean’s emergency preparedness and response mechanisms.”
Abrahams, whose ministry was instrumental in coordinating the details on behalf of the government, said the establishment of the facility will also be of great benefit to Small Island Developing States such as Barbados, not only enhancing emergency response efforts, but ensuring “a more proactive approach to disaster preparedness and response”.
The proposed state-of-the-art facility, which will be located on lands belonging to the Grantley Adams International Airport, will consist of three zones responsible for training and response, storage and operations, and surge capacity.
The 2 500-square metre, temperature-controlled warehouse is designed for multi-function use with racking systems for efficient logistics with interfaced warehouse management and customs operations.
Executive Director of the WFP, David Beasley, highlighted in his remarks that when earthquakes, hurricanes and cyclones hit, the WFP comes in not just with food, but the strategic emergency equipment necessary to set up systems, so that first responders can do their job quickly.
“Every minute and every hour matters … and the more that we can do in preparation, the more lives we will save and the more money we will save when we can preposition supplies…,” he said.
CDEMA’s executive director Elizabeth Riley also noted the importance of a timely response in times of disaster, stating that “when disaster strikes, the delivery of timely relief to impacted populations matters”.
She further noted that the launch of the Caribbean regional logistics hub and centre of excellence directly supports the strategic vision of CDEMA, and her organisation was committed to working with its partners to build a next-level regional response mechanism aimed at responding to the frequent and complex hazards that affect the CDEMA states in a timely and efficient manner.
Minister Abrahams, Beasley, and Riley all expressed thanks to participating donors, the United States, the European Union, and Canada.