Long-term Caribbean aid needed

Pretoria News - - WORLD -

MEX­ICO CITY: Caribbean na­tions need faster ac­cess to cap­i­tal to in­vest in pro­tec­tion against the creep­ing ef­fects of cli­mate change, as many strug­gle to re­cover from the dev­as­tat­ing blow of Hur­ri­cane Irma, says the pres­i­dent of the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank.

Dr Wil­liam War­ren Smith said in a tele­phone in­ter­view that the re­gion would push at com­ing UN cli­mate talks for richer coun­tries to play a big­ger role in help­ing the Caribbean bol­ster its de­fences as ris­ing sea lev­els and vi­o­lent storms threat­ened is­land states.

“We be­lieve there’s a re­spon­si­bil­ity of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity gen­er­ally to ad­dress this prob­lem. We feel that small, vul­ner­a­ble states like ours are in great need of the re­sources be­ing trans­ferred to us so we can ad­dress the prob­lem that we face, much of which is not our do­ing,” said Smith, who is Ja­maican.

Hur­ri­canes might be oc­ca­sional events, but sea level rise was “al­most con­tin­u­ous”, he added.

Hur­ri­cane Irma killed more than 60 peo­ple on its ram­page through the Caribbean and the south-eastern US, with 43 of those deaths in the Caribbean, where homes were de­stroyed and ba­sic ser­vices dev­as­tated.

Sci­en­tists have said warmer air and wa­ter re­sult­ing from cli­mate change may have con­trib­uted to the sever­ity of Irma and Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, which hit Texas on Au­gust 25.

The Bar­ba­dos-based Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank has made emer­gency grants and loans to mem­ber coun­tries to help cover im­me­di­ate costs in the wake of Irma.

The Caribbean Catas­tro­phe Risk In­surance Fa­cil­ity (CCRIF) has paid out $30 mil­lion (R 395m) so far.

Bri­tish over­seas ter­ri­tory the Turks and Caicos Is­lands will re­ceive about $13.6m from the in­surance scheme, while An­guilla will get some $6.5m. Nearly $6.8m will be fun­nelled to An­tigua and Bar­buda, and St Kitts and Ne­vis will re­ceive $2.3m, ac­cord­ing to the CCRIF.

Op­er­ated and owned by Caribbean coun­tries, the CCRIF al­lows is­land na­tions to pool their pre­mi­ums in a dis­as­ter fund. The first mul­ti­coun­try in­surance scheme of its kind, it was launched by the World Bank in 2007 af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ivan in­flicted bil­lions of dol­lars in losses on the re­gion in 2004.

Caribbean states had to pro­tect them­selves from ris­ing seas and storms with reef re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, hefty sea de­fences of boul­ders, and man­groves that help pro­tect against storm surges, Smith said.

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