Composed of smaller islands in the southern Caribbean, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is known for its major sailing destinations and white-sand beaches. However, on Dec. 24, 2013, a heavy tropical storm plagued the islands. Heavy rains, flooding and landslides caused at least eight deaths and massive damage to the country. Declared a level 2 disaster by the government, regional assistance was requested seeing that local resources were limited. That’s when Britain stepped in.
Providing Humanitarian Aid
Britain was the first to offer humanitarian aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Britain provided about $370,000 in early January 2014. In addition to the funds, London provided essential drugs and medical supplies. Water and sanitation equipment were also supplied in an attempt to curb spreading of water-borne diseases. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) supplied the goods on behalf of the U.K.
Also in 2014, the European Commission’s Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) granted €300,000 to bring relief to locations affected by floods. Humanitarian aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines was granted due to the severe impact left behind by the low-level trough system. A trough refers to an extended time of relatively low atmospheric pressure that can bring clouds, wind shifts and rain.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines have a history of receiving humanitarian aid. In 2010, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) vowed to provide any and all support to the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines following the destruction of a previous storm, Hurricane Tomas. This including engaging a team from the U.N. to direct macro socio-economic disaster impact assessments in the islands.
Still rebuilding from years of previous hurricanes and troughs, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) offered $33 million to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and nine other islands to finance proper infrastructure projects. The AFD is a chief agency established by the French government. At least 50 percent of the funding will also go toward climate change adaptation and mitigation projects. Other areas to be funded are:
- Renewable energy
- Water and sanitation
- Waste management
- Updating infrastructure to combat climate change
- Protection of coasts and rivers
The success of humanitarian aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines gave the island hope. Every effort counted and the people of these islands knew they weren’t forgotten in their time of need.
– Tara Jackson