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Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Elizabeth Riley, says that the protracted nature of the pandemic has caused a radical shift in the socio-economic profiles of Caribbean states.

“This has put additional pressure on our social protection systems and I think it taught us quite a lot about the real importance of factoring in human behaviour, and the different perception of risk is something that very much came to the fore,” she noted.

“We continue to see it today even with respect to the extent to which persons are accepting vaccines [or] are hesitant about vaccines,” she added.

Ms. Riley was speaking during Wednesday’s (November 2) session of the virtual Seventh Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Ms. Riley said that the challenges of COVID-19 provided the opportunity for CDEMA to set up an integrated regional logistics hub to supply countries with much-needed items, including personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We set up in Barbados, located at the Bridgetown port for items which were coming in via marine transport and at the Grantley Adams International Airport, for those which came in by air,” she noted.

“We were able to work together with private-sector partners, including regional airlines, our military colleagues, to ensure that these PPEs, as they came into Barbados, they were pushed back out very quickly to all of our CARICOM states, and this was quite a successful exercise,” she pointed out.

CDEMA is the regional intergovernmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The entity was established in 1991 as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), with primary responsibility for the coordination of emergency response and relief efforts to participating states that require such assistance.

It transitioned to CDEMA in 2009 to fully embrace the principles and practice of Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM).

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