The Honourable Darren A. Henfield, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs, led a delegation from The Bahamas to Miami, Florida, for a one-day Ministerial Meeting that resulted in the launch of the US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership on 12th April 2019. The Meeting, which took place at the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) headquarters
in Miami, was hosted by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John. J. Sullivan, who led an interagency team of United States senior officials and experts. Participants from the Caribbean included eighteen (18) Caribbean countries, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the Regional Security System. The Partnership aims to strengthen the U.S.-Caribbean relationship and shared an interest
in achieving greater resilience to natural disasters, building regional resilience to natural disasters, sustaining effective collaboration on disaster response, sharing best practices, and creating new avenues for disaster relief.
The Bahamas, through its National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), already enjoys a strong and rich partnership of more than two decades with agencies of the United States Government in support of the country’s disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery programme. Because of the archipelagic make-up of The The Bahamas, the support provided by the United States, particularly given its close proximity to the country and its capacity, has been critical in responding to disaster recovery. As a result of this strong and rich partnership, The Bahamas has benefitted from the contribution of three (3) strategically located Emergency Relief Warehouses: in Hawksbill, Grand Bahama (in the Northern Bahamas), in Coral Harbour, New
Providence (in the Central Bahamas), and Matthew Town, Great Inagua (in the Southern Bahamas).
Essential equipment has also been provided to each facility. The impact of Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew, and Irma to The Bahamas has been
reported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to cost approximately eight hundred twenty million dollars. Such a cost to an economy like The Bahamas is unsustainable. As a result, the government has taken steps to secure funding to deal with the eventuality of disasters. Given that The Bahamas is susceptible to hurricanes approximately six months out of
the year, resilience is critical and must become a natural way of life in our society. It is through proactive partnerships and collaborations such as the US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership that we can learn from our local, regional and international partners in order to position and prepare ourselves more effectively in the inevitable event of a natural disaster. The Honourable Darren A. Henfield provided closing remarks at the Ministerial Meeting on behalf of the participating Caribbean countries.