By Sheena Forde-Craigg
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) — Following the signing of a land agreement with the World Food Programme (WFP) last Friday, the WFP held a groundbreaking ceremony today at the site where its Caribbean Regional Logistics Hub and Centre of Excellence in Barbados would be located.
Addressing the ceremony at Perimeter Road, Christ Church, minister of home affairs and information, Wilfred Abrahams, whose ministry was instrumental in coordinating the details on behalf of the government of Barbados, expressed gratitude to those who brought it to this stage.
He noted that the establishment of the facility was being made possible through a collaborative partnership between the United Nations World Food Program, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management (CDEMA), and the government of Barbados.
Minister Abrahams stated: “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. The facility is a welcome addition for Barbados and the Caribbean region and will provide appropriate warehousing and training solutions focusing on the enhancement of the Caribbean’s emergency preparedness and response mechanisms.”
He added that its establishment would also be of great benefit to small island developing states like 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 2500 meters square temperature-controlled warehouse is designed for multifunction use with racking systems for efficient logistics with interfaced warehouse management and customs operations.
Executive director of the WFP, David Beasley, in his remarks, highlighted 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 emergency and first responders could do their job quickly.
Beasley stressed: “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….”
Executive director, CDEMA, 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 which affect the CDEMA States, in a timely and efficient manner.
Minister Abrahams, Beasley and Riley all expressed thanks to participating donors, the United States of America, the European Union and Canada; and noted that they looked forward to continuing their positive partnerships.