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DRR in the Caribbean

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency, CDERA, is the main specialized body in the disaster risk management in the Caribbean, with 16 participating states and headquartered in Barbados. CDERA also assists in capacity building and formulation of policy in disaster risk reduction and it is the implementing agency for the Comprehensive Disaster Management Project (CDM).

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) adopted (2001) a Strategy and Results Framework for the Comprehensive Disaster Management with the goal of linking the CDM to national development decision-making and planning. Five years after embracing the CDM against a background of recent global catastrophes, there is a recognized desire among disaster management stakeholders in the Caribbean to review the CDM achievements to date and revisit and sharpen its results focus, and to accelerate initiatives in promoting disaster risk and disaster loss reductions within the CDM in the Caribbean.

In the light of the outcomes of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction and the priorities identified by the Hyogo Framework for Action, and against the background of experiences in the region, CARICOM proposed to focus its programming around the critical actions needed to advance implementation of the five (5) Intermediate Results (IRs) of the 2001 CDM Strategy and Framework, which itself was also explicitly connected to the Bridgetown Programme of Action. Following review and participatory discussion the following thematic areas were selected for priority attention within CARICOM over the 2005-2015 periods.


The Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM)

In 1972, Commonwealth Caribbean leaders at the Seventh Heads of Government Conference decided to transform the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) into a Common Market and establish the Caribbean Community, of which the Common Market would be an integral part.

The signing of the Treaty establishing the Caribbean Community, Chaguaramas, 4th July 1973, was a defining moment in the history of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Although a free-trade area had been established, CARIFTA did not provide for the free movement of labour and capital, or the coordination of agricultural, industrial and foreign policies.

The objectives of the Community are:

i) to improve standards of living and work;
ii) the full employment of labour and other factors of production;
iii) accelerated, coordinated and sustained economic development and convergence;
iv) expansion of trade and economic relations with third States;
v) enhanced levels of international competitiveness;
vi) organisation for increased production and productivity;
vii) achievement of a greater measure of economic leverage and effectiveness of Member States in dealing with third States, groups of States and entities of any description and the enhanced co-ordination of Member States’ foreign and foreign economic policies and enhanced functional co-operation.

The Revised Treaty

In 1989, when the Heads of Government made the decision to transform the Common Market into a single market and economy in which factors move freely as a basis for internationally competitive production of goods and provision of services, it was also decided that for the transformation to take place, the Treaty would have to be revised.

In 1992, following the adoption of the report of the West Indian Commission, an Inter-governmental Task Force was established, to work on the revision of the Treaty.

Between 1993 and 2000, the Inter-Governmental Task Force (IGTF) which was composed of representatives of all Member States, produced nine Protocols, for the purpose of amending the Treaty. These nine Protocols were later combined to create a new version of the Treaty, called formally, The Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas Establishing the Caribbean Community, including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

Allowances have been made for the subsequent inclusion in the Revised Treaty, by way of additional Protocols, new issues such as e-commerce, government procurement, trade in goods from free zones, free circulation of goods, and the rights contingent on the free movement of persons.

See Revised Treaty (PDF)

CARICOM Secretariat

The CARICOM Secretariat is the principal administrative organ of the Community and is headed by a Secretary General who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Community. The current Secretary-General is Edwin W. Carrington (Trinidad and Tobago) who was appointed in 1992.

The main functions of the Secretariat are:

  • Initiate or develop proposals for consideration and decision by the relevant Organs
  • Initiate, organise and conduct studies
  • Provide, on request, services to Member States on Community-related matters
  • Service meetings of the Organs and Bodies of the Community and take appropriate follow-up action on decisions taken
  • Collect, store and disseminate relevant information to Member States
  • Assist Community Organs in the development and implementation of proposals and programmes
  • Mobilise resources from donor agencies to assist in the implementation of Community Programmes
  • Prepare the draft Work Programme and Budget of the Secretariat for examination by the Budget Committee
  • Provide, on request, technical assistance to national authorities to facilitate implementation of Community decisions; and
  • Conduct, as mandated, fact-finding assignments in Member States

Contact info:

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat

P.O. Box 10827, Georgetown, Guyana

Tel: (592) 222 0001-75 Fax: (592) 222 0171



ISDR partner agencies in the Caribbean


The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) is a regional inter-governmental agency established in September 1991 by an Agreement of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM to be responsible for disaster management. CDERA is the regional body for coordinating disaster response for its 16 Participating States: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands. CDERA is also the lead agency that is driving the agenda for Comprehensive Disaster Management in the Caribbean.

CDERA's main function is to make an immediate and coordinated response to any disastrous event affecting any Participating State, once the state requests such assistance.

Other functions include:

- Securing, collating and channeling to interested governmental and non-governmental organizations, comprehensive and reliable information on disasters? affecting the region;
- Mitigating or eliminating as far as possible, the consequences of disasters affecting Participating States.
- Establishing and maintaining on a sustainable basis, adequate disaster response capabilities among Participating States; and
- Mobilizing and coordinating disaster relief from governmental and non-governmental organizations for affected Participating States.

Contact info:

Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency

Bldg #1 Manor Lodge Complex

Lodge Hill, St. Michael


Tel. No. (246)-425-0386, Fax No. (246)-425-8854




The Association of Caribbean States (ACS) facilitates consultation, co-operation and concerted action among its Member States and Associate Members.

ACS Secretary General (2008): Ambassador Luis Fernando Andrade Falla

The Convention establishing the ACS was signed on 24 July 1994 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, with the aim of promoting consultation, cooperation and concerted action among all the countries of the Caribbean, comprising 25 Member States and three Associate Members. Eight other non-independent Caribbean countries are eligible for associate membership.

Member States: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.

Associate Members: Aruba , France (on behalf of French Guiana , Guadeloupe and Martinique ), the Netherlands Antilles and Turks and Caicos

Observer Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, India, Italy, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Korea, Morocco, Peru, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The objectives of the ACS are outlined in the Convention and are based on: 1) strengthening of the regional co-operation and integration process, with a view to creating an enhanced economic space in the region; 2) preserving the environmental integrity of the Caribbean Sea which is regarded as the common patrimony of the peoples of the region; and 3) promoting the sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean.

See: Full text of the ACS Convention


Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM)

The Enhanced CDRM Framework which proposes four priority outcomes is based on three underpinning pillars: The Review and Assessment of the 2001 CDM Strategy and Framework; the global and regional disaster management agenda including the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015; and the CARICOM Regional Programming Framework. The Intermediate Results of the 2001 Framework have been incorporated in the relevant places so as to ensure continuity and deepening of the CDM process which began in 2001. The Enhanced Framework is designed toward achieving the overarching Goal of Sustainable Development in the Caribbean.

The outcomes have been informed by the need for a strategic shift toward a programming framework which will foster collaboration among development partners and other key players as well as harmonization among the many projects, programs and initiatives in DRM within the Region. The draft revised CDM Framework was presented for feedback and endorsement in principle from the key stakeholders at the inaugural CDM conference held December 11th-14th, 2006 in Barbados.

The revised CDRM framework will be presented to the Board of CDERA, to national stakeholders at the country level, and to COTED in CARICOM. National Disaster Management Policies are needed in all countries with the exception of BVI and St Lucia, and prioritization at the highest levels within each state is an essential step. Development partners have undertaken to assess how the respective agencies can contribute to/support the CDRM process. Roles will need to be defined and institutional capacity for implementing/supporting CDRM within the respective agencies assessed.

Caribbean Platform Programme (CPP)

A proposal, “The Caribbean Platform Programme” (CPP) was presented by UN/ISDR Americas during the 12th Meeting of the Special Committee on Natural Disasters of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), in August 2006. Building from the foundational work of the CDM, and sharing two of its main goals, the CPP directly targets to alleviate some of the regions long standing challenges hindering the realization of the most effective national and regional Disaster Risk Reduction.

Additionally, it focuses on strengthening the structures and processes towards more integrative risk reduction, and furthering the mainstreaming of DRR into sustainable development planning and policies. Towards the realization of the most recent regional DRR declarations (Kingston 2005, Havana 2005,) as well as internationally accepted DRR and broader sustainable development frameworks, CPP is a highly practical and product oriented effort in affecting real and sustainable positive change in the Caribbean. Including participation with all countries in the Wider Caribbean, and operating in English, French and Spanish, this four-year programme in region-wide collaboration, builds directly upon past and on-going relevant initiatives, working in association with international and regional organizations and directly with national communities in multi-stakeholder and multi-sector –oriented activities in the areas of national assessments and capacity building, regional harmonization and collaboration, information standardization and information management, partnerships and networking, education training and knowledge development and exchange.

Programme partners are ACS, CDERA, UNDP, and UN/ISDR.


Regional profile 2008

Hydrometeorological hazards & hurricane season 2008

As of early October, the Caribbean region experienced, during the 2008 hurricane season, intense hurricane activity associated with three hurricanes in twelve days that resulted in multiple impacts to several islands. The Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) were all affected between August 26 and September 9, 2008 by more than one tropical system which caused severe damage to property and infrastructure and in Haiti also claimed the lives of hundreds of persons. Torrential rains in Trinidad and Tobago caused flooding and the death of one person. Rains also caused landslides in Saint Vincent and Grenadines and took the life of one person.

2008 Hurricane Season Map (as of Nov. 10); ReliefWeb:

Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Hanna, Hurricane Ike, Intense hurricane Paloma, Tropical Storm Fay.

Geological hazards & recent events

The Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat is active. An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of Martinique in November 2007, shaking countries from Guyana in the south to Puerto in the North.

Again this year the extent of the impact of these hazards on the economies and society in the Caribbean is strongly felt. Significant damage has been reported to the built environment, including schools, hospitals, roads and bridges. Over 90% of houses were damaged in Grand Turk and South Caicos in the Turks and Caicos Islands by Hurricane Ike, while 25% of the houses in Great Inagua in the Bahamas sustained damage. In Haiti, an estimated 30,000 houses were damaged from the impacts of Hurricanes Hanna and Gustav; while in Cuba an estimated 100,000 homes sustained damage from Gustav. Flooding from Hurricane Gustav in Jamaica caused the collapse of the Harbour View Bridge which spans the Hope River. There was also very significant damage to hospitals, schools and other public buildings, roads and the electricity system in Turks and Caicos.

The repeated devastation to critical infrastructure resulting from the impacts of such events has consistently setback regional development. Protection of the Caribbean's critical infrastructure must therefore become a pillar of efforts to build a culture of resilience.

Source: Message from CDERA Coordinator, Jeremy Collymore - International Day for Disaster Reduction; October 8, 2008


Related links

Related HFA-Pedia pages

See also Greater Caribbean

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