Bertram Leon, Chair of the Caribbean Skills Bank writes:
Hurricane Elsa, the first of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, battered several Caribbean islands, leaving at least three dead as it felled trees and buildings. It continued on its path where it unleashed even more misery and deadly flooding on the Americas. The Category 1 storm unleashed heavy rain and winds in Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, (which is still struggling to recover from recent massive volcanic eruptions) and several other islands. Authorities in St Vincent and the Grenadines were forced to open dozens of shelters and urged people to evacuate if they lived near a valley, given the threat of flash flooding, mudslides and volcanic mudflows, especially in the northern part of the island where La Soufrière volcano is located.
Barbados was the first island in Elsa’s path – the first hurricane to hit the island in over 60 years. Authorities there said they received calls about families trapped in their homes, collapsed houses, and power and water outages. Many other islands reported extensive damage to power lines, property, downed trees, agricultural crop losses and flooding resulting from the category 1 storm. This natural disaster could not have come at a more difficult time, as many of the islands are still dealing with the continued effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hurricanes are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena. On average, 12 tropical storms, 6 of which become hurricanes, form over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30 occur yearly. National Meteorological Agencies predict that the coming years will see hurricanes becoming even more frequent, ferocious and destructive. So, it is anticipated that the region will need more significant support and assistance from the wider overseas diaspora.
Caribbean Skills Bank (CSB), an organisation set up two years ago, was established to assist the Caribbean region in national development and emergencies and help build its resilience to other natural occurrences. Caribbean Skills Bank is not a new idea; however, no determined effort has been pursued to turn this concept into a reality, although several versions do exist. CSB aimed to establish a database of Caribbean nationals from various walks of life, skills, and talents to respond to regional emergencies and disasters and other national development initiatives and activities. The benefit of this would be its ability to collectively pool the strengths, resources, and experience to address critical issues of national and regional importance and needs.
Discussions and agreements at various levels have already been agreed upon, and a company – Caribbean Diaspora Skills Directory CIC (Community Interest Company) was established to manage this enterprise. The database created would harness in one place the skills, talent, investment opportunities and philanthropic potential of the Caribbean Diaspora. As well as helping institutions and charities, the database would also help the Caribbean attract the best talent from its Diaspora for opportunities either in a voluntary or commercial capacity. In the long term, this database could also help to connect Caribbean professionals with Diaspora mentors for advice and support on the global platform.
To achieve these goals, CSB is engaging in activities such as:
- Linking the Caribbean Diaspora with the region.
- Identify the most critical needs of the region in collaboration with government, business leaders and experts.
- Identify and support activities designed to increase the participation of regional innovators and entrepreneurs in poverty reduction, development, climate resilience.
More information and registration to the database can be access via the CSB website: https://www.caribbeanskillsbank.com/
How to support St Vincent & the Grenadines – April 2021