When COVID began to infiltrate the Caribbean, the World Food Program (WFP) quickly reached out to governments to find the best way to help funnel money to people who were struggling to feed their families while that jobs were starting to disappear.
For Dominica, helping to rapidly digitize the country’s largely paper-based data collection and payment systems was the fastest and most efficient solution, says Regis Chapman, WFP Office Manager in Barbados.
Within weeks, WFP helped Dominica implement systems to more effectively collect and analyze the data needed to determine who was eligible for payments to help overcome the pandemic.
By printing scannable QR codes on payment envelopes and asking people to digitally sign to confirm receipt, Dominica quickly created a visualization dashboard to show where and when funds were distributed.
âWe are now planning to develop an information management system to better manage data on all of their welfare programs, not just the government assistance program,â Chapman said.
âThe socio-economic aspect of COVID has been devastating. The lowest income groups are the most affected and we have seen huge spikes in food insecurity.
WFP’s shock-responsive social protection program is one of many in the Caribbean supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) which has provided $ 183 million in aid to the region – to the exclusion of Haiti – since 1994.
Through its DIPECHO disaster preparedness program, $ 50 million of these funds have targeted disaster risk reduction and community resilience programs.
Today, as middle-income Caribbean countries compete with other regions of the world for increasingly tight funding, it is more important than ever to show how projects support communities and protect lives. and livelihoods, say experts.
**THE PLANS **
Showcasing evidence of successful programs also helps create models that can be used in other parts of the world, says Saskia Carusi, external relations manager for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Regional Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Americas and the Caribbean (UNDRR).
âIt’s important to show how successful the projects are from an accountability standpoint,â says Carusi, based in Panama.
“But for ECHO, it is important to show that the projects save lives and make a difference, and that there are still needs in the region.”
The best evidence should be a combination of quantitative data showing how losses are reduced by disaster risk reduction projects, as well as qualitative examples of how programs work on the ground, says Carusi.
The evidence should also examine whether localized pilot projects can be rolled out in neighboring communities or even scaled up at a national level, she said.
With EU funding, UNDRR created the dipÃ©cholac.net platform where organizations can highlight their Caribbean projects and show how they relate to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. .
He now wants organizations to post videos, documents and infographics on the site that show how Caribbean projects have been adapted to make a difference during the pandemic and other emergencies.
For the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the pandemic has underscored the importance of preparing Caribbean communities to face multiple risks, said Marisa Clarke-Marshall, Coordinator, Partnerships and planning of the IFRC.
During the crisis, Community Disaster Response Teams (CDRTs) trained by the Red Cross with ECHO funding to deal with hazards such as hurricanes, quickly adapted to help communities do so. in the face of COVID, she said.
Trained primarily to carry out initial damage assessments, provide first aid and coordinate an immediate response, CDRTs have helped identify those most in need in their communities and provide vouchers and hygiene kits. .
The CDRT project has caught the attention of major donors keen to set up similar teams elsewhere, while an ECHO-funded tool to assess risks and vulnerabilities is now in use globally, she said.
âDonor-funded projects are the engine of our community action. It makes a huge difference, âsays Clarke-Marshall, based in Trinidad and Tobago.
** HIGH LEVEL IMPACT **
Events such as the VII Regional Platform co-hosted by UNDRR in November for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean offer governments, multilateral agencies and nonprofit organizations the opportunity to show which projects have best helped fight COVID while continuing to accelerate preparedness.
For UNDRR, its plans to build the resilience of Caribbean businesses paid off during the pandemic, as companies adapted their business continuity plans that were primarily designed to deal with climate-related crises, Carusi explains.
Its EU-funded project to increase disaster preparedness and reduction through the Safe Schools Initiative in the Caribbean is now attracting interest in other Latin American countries, said Carusi .
âUNDRR’s work on long-term policy and advocacy has a greater impact,â says Carusi.
For WFP, EU funding supports its work with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Agency (CDEMA) to pre-position generators, pre-fab units and other equipment to help countries better prepare, save lives and reduce losses.
âA big part of what we’re looking for is how to help government systems become more resilient,â says Chapman.
âOne of the region’s prime ministers recently said that everyone says the Caribbean is so resilient, we have to be. You have to get up when you’re knocked down and start all over because what else choice do you have. “