Canada & CDEMA Reaffirm Intended Cooperation in Response to Caribbean Disasters

Canada & CDEMA Reaffirm Intended Cooperation in Response to Caribbean Disasters

May 2, 202468Views

Thursday, May 2, 2024 — In advance of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, the Government of Canada and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) have reaffirmed their intended cooperation and collaboration to work jointly to respond when the impact of natural hazards in the region leads to disaster.

On Thursday, May 2, Executive Director of CDEMA Elizabeth Riley and High Commissioner of Canada H.E. Lilian Chatterjee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines the process for CDEMA to request support from the Canadian Armed Forces, to move response teams and equipment to assist an affected Participating State as part of a regional response. First announced by Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau at the Canada-CARICOM Summit in Ottawa in October 2023, where the Canada-CARICOM Strategic Partnership was launched by leaders, the MOU aims to facilitate timely and targeted tactical support to the Caribbean through the Regional Response Mechanism.

In commenting on the signing, CDEMA’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Riley extended her gratitude to the Government of Canada for its support and commitment towards bolstering disaster risk management in the region. “This MOU is timely, given the complex multi-hazard realities of this region and the forecast for the 2024 Atlantic basin hurricane season of 23 named storms, 11 hurricanes and 5 major hurricanes,” she said.

Riley further added, “in times of crisis, Canada has consistently proven its reliability in supporting CDEMA’s efforts, whether through provision of pledged airport specialist support, financial support, providing logistical support during the challenging period of COVID-19 or aiding in early recovery efforts through initiatives like the Caribbean Early Recovery Fund.”

The MOU complements Canada’s partnership with CDEMA through existing initiatives such as the CAD $8 million Targeted Support to CDEMA project, which has been strengthening the organisation’s ability to respond to disasters through training, the provision of emergency communication equipment, and the development of operational procedures. Additionally, the CAD $15 million EnGenDER project, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with CDEMA and others, is helping beneficiary countries to plan for the recovery phase of a disaster, and Canada’s support to the World Food Programme involves working with CDEMA to establish a Regional Logistics Hub and Centre of Excellence in Barbados.

High Commissioner Chatterjee noted, “Canada has a long history of supporting its Caribbean neighbours and partners in times of disaster. However, as the severity of the hazard increases, so does the complexity of the response operation. We are delighted that Canada, through its Armed Forces, will be able to provide timely support to our friends at CDEMA – and by extension to the people of the Caribbean – when they need it most.”

Canada and CDEMA acknowledge the particular vulnerabilities of the economies and ecosystems of the Caribbean Community and Participating States of CDEMA in the face of the impacts of climate change and major natural hazards, such as hurricanes, landslides, floods and volcanic eruptions. Regional support, cooperation and coordination is essential to optimize preparedness and resilience, as the impact of these natural hazards has increased in frequency, scale, and complexity in the Caribbean over the last decade.