CDB project boosts assistance to St VincentWednesday, May 05, 2021
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – Vincentians impacted by the eruption of La Soufrière will be getting over US$135,000 in assistance for relief supplies, volcano monitoring and early warning equipment under the Volcano Ready Project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Supplies including 500 mattresses, 1,500 cases of bottled water and 50 800-gallon water tanks were delivered to the country on April 29, while the equipment is being procured. The equipment includes seismic stations (seismometers, recorders, digitizer, power supply and case), 20 wireless ethernet radios, one remote monitoring camera, 3 GPS antennas and receivers, one SO2 spectrometer for gas measurement and a Mavic 300 drone.
“We remain truly grateful for the CDB's support as we have seen where the work we have been implementing over the last three years to increase public education, community readiness and improve the volcano early warning system has contributed to reducing the loss of lives in response to the eruption,” said Monique Johnson, project manager of the Volcano-Ready Communities in St Vincent and the Grenadines Project.
“Many initially would have thought that the volcano readiness was a far-off concept but we have now seen how all the preparation we have been doing has helped. It is also critical that we boost the monitoring of the volcano at a time like this so we are not caught off guard in the future.”
The Project was started in 2017 under the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF) administered by CDB with finances from Canada and the European Union.
Johnson noted that emphasis was placed on sharing best practices and lessons learnt through online education while working with local project partners, the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) and the SVG Red Cross Society, to disseminate close to 500 community readiness kits. She also credited CDB for its ongoing role in helping the project team to convert one seismic station to seven when the focus shifted to volcano monitoring and early warning in December 2020.
CDB's Project Manager of the CDRRF, George Yearwood explained the community engagement approach employed in their support of the project.
“Much has been done under the project to equip some of the island's most vulnerable in the 12 communities closest to La Soufrière to secure their livelihoods and be prepared for evacuation. Once the volcano erupted, we knew that we had to offer more support,” stated Yearwood.
Staying true to its community engagement model, CDB's Community Development Specialist, Richardo Aiken, reaffirmed the importance of keeping the community engaged and involved through all project stages. Aiken noted that from the early project stages community engagement surveys were utilised to get feedback from the community. He added that this process has continued in such a way that the community is involved in assessments of livelihoods risks and threats, community profiles, livelihood inventories, stakeholder maps and seasonal calendars. This level of engagement also helped the project to determine effective ways to engage different segments of the community.
La Soufrière erupted explosively on April 9, 2021 and resulted in the evacuation of people living in the red zone, which demarks communities closest to the volcano. Upwards of 13,000 people have since been displaced. The island has been struggling to cope with the aftermath as well as the possibility of further eruptions.
“We will continue to look at how to provide support to St Vincent and the Grenadines even after the Volcano Ready Project comes to an end,” said Yearwood.
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