Dr Ralph Gonsalves
News
April 5, 2022
2008 – 2022 very challenging period in history of SVG – PM

THE EXPLOSIVE volcanic eruptions of 2021 marks just one of the enormous challenges that this country has endured within the past 14 years.

This is according to Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves who delivered the feature address at yesterday’s launch of month-long activities to commemorate the first anniversary of the volcanic disaster.

“I have looked into our history to see what comparable period historically we have had challenges of the enormity of what confronts us now and to see how the government of the day, the colonial authorities dealt with matters, and how the people responded. And I take the period between 2008 and 2022, this 14 year period as particularly challenging and look for a comparable period historically,” the prime minister said.

In that time period, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) experienced the effects of a rapid decline in the sugar industry, a hurricane that killed hundreds of people and the volcanic eruption of 1902.

Knock-on effects were also felt from the 1914 war, Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, another hurricane in 1926 and the economic depression from 1928 to 1931.

“And when you look at it, the colonial government did very little and the people took it upon themselves, in the period of the most rapid migration in the period of the country, he said. “While we in a better position with government and have a better platform, the people in the communities, when you look at that period, sought in their very difficult circumstances to see how they can work together in social solidarity with one another…” Gonsalves, whose portfolio includes national security reflected on the days leading up to last year’s volcanic eruptions before he issued the call to evacuate.

“Respair” is the prime minister’s word of choice to describe the period in which the country finds itself a year later in its efforts to “build back better”.

“It means fresh hope. This is a time of respair, and fresh hope is connected with faith and love, which are founded in our Judeo- Christian ethic and in doing our work, we have to be in social solidarity and embrace this fresh hope from repairing, coming more together…,” he said.

The month-long activities launched yesterday are a collaborative effort between several entities including the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO),the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (UWISRC) and the University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia.

It is the intention that the activities not only commemorate the anniversary of the explosive eruptions which began on April 9, 2021 but also to raise awareness of the risk and science associated with La Soufriere volcano.

Activities over the course of the month include a number of photo exhibitions — the first of which will take place in Sandy Bay this Saturday, April 9, starting at 2:00p.m.

Activities also include Round Table Talks with Ministers of Government in key ministries that were actively involved in co-ordinating the response following the eruption of the volcano, lectures with the students at tertiary level institutions and other activities which target primary and secondary school students.

NEMO Staff, Subcommittees, members and volunteers will also attend Thanksgiving Services at various churches throughout the country on April 9 and April 10.