Disaster agency shot in the foot by CARICOM members’ failure to pay

cdemaST JOHN’S, Antigua, Wednesday July 30, 2014, CMC – The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is experiencing major difficulties meeting objectives because member countries are not paying up.

The Antigua Observer newspaper Friday reported the agency’s Executive Director Ronald Jackson saying inadequate contributions by member states are causing a circular negative effect because without that money CDEMA cannot build internal mechanisms to qualify it for international financing.

“We have managed to currently negotiate 20 million Euros (one US Dollar = 0.74 Euro) for the next five years of which we are only going to get 4.9 Euros. Why? The European Union did not think we had the infrastructure internally to manage all 20 million Euros,” Jackson said during a courtesy visit to Minister of Social Transformation and Human Resource Development, Samantha Marshall.

CDEMA membership covers a total of 18 Caribbean countries, including all members of CARICOM.

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“We are looking at accessing additional resources to be able to build on the four-to-one benefit to cost ratio that is now out there and that is being challenged by the level of commitment expressed by our member states. This is usually reflected in the ability of member states to service their contributions,” Jackson said.

“That’s an area which is challenging us because it has placed us in a massive deficit and we are now at a crossroads.”

He said international aid organisations and donor countries are moving away from the provision of direct assistance in preference to supporting regional bodies such as CDEMA.

“They are gravitating away from bilateral. You will find some bilateral programmes more on crime, but for things as disaster reduction and so forth, they are moving to regional resourcing,” Jackson said.

But he explained that placing itself in position to receive that assistance depends on how well the CDEMA can present an adequate internal infrastructure showing it has the ability to live up to obligations which come with fund assistance.