The Bahamas suffered $828m in damage, losses and costs between 2015 and 2017 as a result of being struck by major hurricanes, the Prime Minister revealed yesterday.
Dr Hubert Minnis, referring to the report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on the combined impact of Joaquin, Matthew and Irma, said The Bahamas is preparing to better respond to natural disasters and thus minimise the potential loss of life and damage to property.
“We must maximise our ability to recover as quickly as possible in order to quickly get our communities and the economy back on track following catastrophic events,” he said. “A key part of any readiness plan is to have access to resources as quickly as possible to speed up response and recovery efforts.”
Speaking as the government signed an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that will give it access to a $100m contingent loan facility, which The Bahamas can draw down upon should a major storm strike, the prime minister said this was part of developing an effective financial strategy to deal with disaster preparedness.
The strategy also involves using the proceeds of extinguished dormant bank accounts to set up an independently-managed disaster relief fund, and signing up once again for the regional insurance fund, the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), to provide coverage for public infrastructure in the event of catastrophic damage.
“Our administration will undertake proactive steps, to ensure that appropriate legislation and policy framework are in place to mitigate the impact of natural disasters and, by extension, the amount of ex-post resources required to rapidly restore normalcy in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” the prime minister said.
“I am hopeful that the [IDB] will assist The Bahamas in this undertaking, along with technical assistance in creating the framework for a holistic disaster relief strategy.”