Although most of its mobile storage units have been taken down in Arnos Vale, the World Food Programme (WFP) continues to support the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), and the overall disaster management system in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
The WFP, a United Nations humanitarian organisation, has been stationed here since two days after the start of explosive volcanic eruptions of La Soufriere in April. It’s most visible presence was its tents which lined a portion of the tarmac at the decommissioned ET Joshua airport.
And while these mobile storage units have been recently taken down, the WFP’s mission in SVG is seemingly far from over.
In fact, Regis Chapman, director of the WFP office in Barbados, told SEARCHLIGHT that the organisation will have a presence here for the foreseeable future.
“The World Food Programme continues to support the government’s response to the impacts of … La Soufriere eruption. Bringing down those tents or what we call mobile storage units, is basically an indication of where the response is to date,” he explained.
During the eruptive phase of the volcano, large amounts of goods were brought into the country, but the flow has since slowed allowing for the existing warehouse infrastructure in the country to sufficiently manage storage.
As a result, the need for the hubs, which were set up at Arnos Vale with NEMO and CDEMA, by WFP, has decreased.
Chapman said that the organisation will continue to support in other ways.
“Even without the Arnos Vale hub, one of the things that we did in co-ordination with CDEMA was introduce what we call the CDEMA logistics system and essentially, what that is, is it’s a relief item tracking system,” he said. “And so when we first introduced that to Arnos Vale, that helped to essentially streamline some of the processes by which different government entities could request goods and those goods could be delivered. That system also brings greater transparency into the overall operations, etc.”
He added that they are also working towards implementing the system at Ottley Hall and some other locations with NEMO, in an effort to continue effectively managing various relief items being distributed by government.
The WFP will also continue to work with the Ministry of National Mobilisation to provide cash transfers through the Soufriere Relief Grant, to families affected by the eruption.
“…That grant has reached to date, around 19,200 people, and around 1.9 million US dollars has been distributed to date, and so we have the third round of those distributions going on right now. The next round should be starting in a couple of weeks,” Chapman told SEARCHLIGHT.
He added that, “we continue to assess people that are impacted. We’re also supporting the Ministry of Education with some of the school feeding…in the country, and particularly in areas where…the evacuees have had to move to etc.”
Overall, Chapman said the humanitarian organisation will continue to pivot and support the government as things transition more and more towards a greater recovery.
“The World Food Programme, along with the FAO, we’re in the process of finalising a joint programme in support of both the Ministry of National Mobilisation and the Ministry of Agriculture to really strengthen some of the data management processes and the links between those two sectors moving forward, and that would be a two year project as well,” he said. “So we very much view — obviously the immediate response in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption necessitated a larger WFP presence and perhaps a more robust response; but as the situation sort of settles…we will transition the type of support that we’re providing to the government.”