Remarks: USAID Administrator Green Announces Additional $10 Million For Disaster Resilience In The Caribbean

Remarks

For Immediate Release

Monday, December 16, 2019
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: press@usaid.gov

 
December 16, 2019
Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency
Bridgetown, Barbados

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Thank you and good afternoon, everyone. I would like to in particular thank our hosts, the Government of Barbados and CDEMA. Thank you so much for your hospitality as well as your partnership and our continued work together. And I, too, will stand on the protocols of my predecessors. Today, I am proud to help reaffirm the importance of the long-standing collaboration between the countries of the Caribbean and the United States in the area of disaster preparedness and resilience.

You know, in the U.S., we often refer to the Caribbean as our third border. It's a term of affection, one that underscores the common interests and values that we share. I hope you see evidence of that in my own travels as Administrator. This is actually the sixth country that I visited in the Caribbean in my two plus years as Administrator. More importantly, I hope you will see proof of our commitment and our published U.S. Caribbean 2020 Strategy for Engagement. With this strategy, the Trump administration is working to enhance regional cooperation, increased trade and investment, and work to build capacity to tackle shared threats together. And as the previous speaker has said, these are shared threats; they affect all of us to one degree or another.

As the last few years have demonstrated, I think, nowhere is that capacity building more important or more urgent than in disaster preparedness and response. We have seen painfully, how extreme weather events in the Caribbean are increasing in intensity and frequency. In 2017, it was Hurricanes Irma and Maria that devastated the region. And earlier this year, as we just heard reference to, it was Hurricane Dorian that struck the Bahamas. It was the most powerful storm in that country's history, causing true devastation and destruction. USAID and the U.S. Government provided assistance after each of those storms. In total, we contributed more than $9.7 million toward the Hurricane Irma and Maria responses, and more than $25.5 million toward the Hurricane Dorian response.

Our disaster experts were on the ground immediately to assess damage and to facilitate the delivery of emergency relief supplies. In some cases, we were even able to preposition resources and staff whose support helped to meet the immediate needs of the affected populations and provided a bridge between recovery and response and relief. I hope the message is clear. We will always stand with the people of the Caribbean when disaster strikes.

Lending our hand to our friends and neighbors in their time of great need -- well, that's one of our core values. It's a value that I believe is rooted in American compassion and, yes, generosity and neighborliness. But we also believe that the truest sense of compassion comes with helping others to help themselves.

And so we're equally committed to working with our friends and partners to build resilience against hurricanes and other natural disasters. And 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. Our decades of experience have shown that these investments in disaster risk reduction save lives, reduce damage and cost, and accelerate recovery times. Most importantly of all, though, they empower countries to proactively safeguard and help their people.

At USAID, we believe that every person, every community, in every country, wants to lead their own bright future to be self-reliant. And so we believe that when countries are willing to take on the reforms and willing to make the choices that are necessary to pursue self-reliance, then we have an obligation to walk with them along the way.

In the area of disaster management, there is no greater tool to foster self-reliance than those investments that help to prevent a disaster or reduce the damage when they do strike. This August, under the umbrella of the U.S. Government's Caribbean Resilience Partnership, USAID contributed $2 million to the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology to strengthen weather research and forecast systems all across the region. We've supported CIMH since its inception. We believe in it. And we hope that these investments, along with what we're talking about today, is really what makes this wonderful institution the foremost climate science agency in the region.

Today, I'm excited to announce an additional $10 million investment 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.

At the local level, that means things like training for first responders, education and messaging, campaigns for communities, and the development of localized emergency response plans. At the national level, the assistance will help to harmonize policies and operational procedures across agencies, ensure that facilities and equipment meet international standards, and facilitate post disaster performance reviews and assessments.

Regionally, the funding will support intergovernmental coordination and information sharing, helping each Caribbean nation to work together to face a shared threat.

As neighbors, we all realize that communities across the Caribbean are still coping with the aftermath of Irma and Maria. In the Bahamas, we all know that residents still face a lengthy recovery from Hurricane Dorian. It's reasonable to hope that storms of this intensity never strike again. But it's also reasonable and prudent to plan as though they will. Through these investments, USAID is committed to helping our partners across the Caribbean prepare for the worst and avert disasters before they occur. We are proud to work with all of you. We are impressed with the leadership and many accomplishments. And while we know that challenges loom for all of us ahead, what I have seen today in the conversations that we have had fill me with optimism. I know that we continue to improve our capabilities to learn from the past and to build a brighter future.

Last updated: December 17, 2019

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