The government can no longer afford to be lax in its preparation and recovery strategies for natural disasters and must collaborate with the private sector, non-governmental organisations and individuals, according to the newly released edition of the University of The Bahamas’ (UB’s) research journal.
UB published its International Journal of Bahamian Studies (IJBS) Volume 27 on Friday with a featured section on “Hurricane Dorian: Impacts and Future Preparation”. Researchers concluded that a broader approach to collaboration is critical for disaster preparedness and responses in the face of climate change. These discussions are particularly relevant as the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is underway in Glasgow, Scotland.
“The Government of The Bahamas can no longer be so lax in its preparation strategies for managing natural disasters. Private companies, non-governmental organisations, and individuals will and must be included in both the preparation and recovery from such disasters, at national and international levels.
“Furthermore, support structures should be in place for those very volunteers and individuals who are directly and indirectly affected to alleviate the emotional and psychological trauma surviving and supporting survivors of such events can cause,” wrote UB Associate Professor Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett and Assistant Professor Dr. Saskia Furst.
Included in the Hurricane Dorian section of the IJBS is a study on the value of having volunteer groups assist the public sector in responding to national disasters through a close study of the Core Group. Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Research Centre Senior Research Fellow Dr. Adelle Thomas, Librarian Cathleen LeGrand, and Susan H. Larson concluded that volunteers will inevitably be motivated to assist in the recovery of national climate disasters, so governments should integrate and effectively make use of this resource in emergency management systems.
“These groups can make fast decisions regarding the redirection of their resources and can take quick action without the administrative burdens and bureaucratic requirements of the public sector.
“However, to ensure that the value and experience of these groups is used to improve future disaster response, NGOs and private sector partners need to become part of the formal national disaster management system,” the study concluded.
Research by Nastassia Pratt entitled “The Responsibility of Community Sustainability from the Frontlines of Climate Change” analysed the areas for adaptation capacity in housing, national systems of sheltering and evacuation pre- and post-hurricanes. It also assessed how vulnerable communities are particularly susceptible to injustices after natural disasters. Hurricane Dorian was used as a case study.
Pratt argued that these areas need special considerations and advocated for including locals and local communities in the rebuild and design of homes and buildings, relocate those whose homes are not salvageable, and in partnership with the private sector, protect vulnerable communities, like ‘The Mudd’ and ‘Pigeon Pea’.
“The national shelter system needs to be expanded with increased capacity and robust structures,” she noted. “A significant increase in super-hurricane rated, civic infrastructure is needed to form a base of the nation’s network of hurricane shelters. Thirdly, the Bahamas Building Code requires immediate revision and/or amendment.”
Dr. Bethell-Bennett’s research was an auto-ethnographic overview of the structural violence, slow violence, and spatial (in)justice facing “often silenced and unvoiced communities” due to Hurricane Dorian entitled “Dorian Unmaking Space: Policy and Place and Dislocation.” Echoing previous studies, he explored the loss of property, community, and connections to past stories, caused by a hurricane as well as the physical and emotional violence that happens afterward.
“The real sticking point is the political system that centres government in everything and endows the prime minister with superhuman power to unmake places in the name of recovery from disasters. This is the unmaking of idyllic, local island space and the making of a new kind of apartheid,” Dr. Bethell-Bennett noted.
Among the original journal articles, “The Role of Leadership in Special Economic Zones” by Kemi Alexander Jones reviews relevant theories on leadership styles and uses a case study research method to develop a leadership profile of Edward St. George compared to three of his immediate successors in leading the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
Another, “Microplastics in The Bahamas: A Reconnaissance Quantifying the Prevalence on Selected Beaches in New Providence”, by Jonopia Andrea Fernander and Dr. Kristen Welsh-Unwala is a study of samples collected at Cabbage Beach, Goodman’s Bay, and Montague Beach. Historian Jim Lawlor’s “Wrecked Emigrant Ships in The Bahamas: The Wreck of the Barque William and Mary” explores the wrecks of four emigrant ships in The Bahamas in the early 1850s.
Volume 27 of the IJBS is the largest in the journal’s 41-year history, according to editor Dr Raymond Oenbring. Other published research in the journal cover a broad range of topical research with implications for a society that is still enduring the impacts of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the challenges of climate change.
The journal also features several other original articles, reports on a living wage for The Bahamas and the first 20 years of UB’s Research Edge forum, a literature review and a section for additional commentaries and speeches.
The International Journal of Bahamian Studies Volume 27 is accessible at https://journals.sfu.ca/cob/index.php/files.