SVG Embassy organising relief measures for future disasters
November 5, 2010
SVG Embassy organising relief measures for future disasters

The Embassy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United States of America in Washington D.C. has been promoting the establishment of a St. Vincent and the Grenadines Disaster Emergency Response Mechanism (SVG-DERM) among the Vincentian Diaspora in the USA.{{more}}

Galvanized by the Embassy’s experience after the occurrence of the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, Ambassador La Celia Prince immediately put the wheels in motion to form the SVG-DERM.

According to Ambassador, “When our Embassy called around to find out what each of the various Associations was doing in response to the Haiti disaster, it became painfully obvious that there was no coordination between the various Associations and neither knew what the other was doing. It resulted in a duplication of efforts; in items being collected which were in fact not needed in Haiti; barrels of items which could not be shipped because the requisite shipping procedures were not followed; and many other equally frustrating incidents. And I could not help but think: what if this had happened in SVG? What if we were struck by a major disaster, how could or should the Diaspora respond? It frightened me to think that in spite of the best efforts which we would be putting forward, that lack of preparation would result in chaos….. chaos would result in us not meeting the objective of adequately responding to the needs of our beloved SVG in a timely manner.”

Given the importance of the input and the contributions made by the Diaspora community, it quickly became apparent that a mechanism was needed to facilitate a coordinated response by the Vincentian Diaspora in the event of a disaster striking St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It was then that the Embassy set to work to hammer out parameters and protocols which would be presented to the Vincentian Diaspora and used as the guide by which they would respond in the event of a natural disaster for a collective and coordinated response.

The Embassy has since developed a presentation with the assistance and input from St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) and the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA). In the United States, Ambassador Prince has also consulted Columbia University’s National Centre for Disaster Preparedness and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to assist in developing the protocols and guidelines. Since then, she has been promoting the mechanism with various groups of Vincentian nationals in cities throughout the United States of America and recently made the pitch to the Vincentian community in Montreal, Canada. With further meetings planned for Washington and New York, it is hoped that the mechanism would be functional by the end of this year.

Thus far, the feedback to the Embassy’s idea has been positive from the Diaspora groups, and in wake of the passage of hurricane Tomas, more people are appreciating the need for such a mechanism to be established.

The Ambassador and Staff of the Embassy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United States of America extend their sympathies to all those who have suffered losses during the passage of Hurricane Tomas and continue to do their part to ensure a speedy and thorough recovery from this crisis.