Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley receives a gift from her St. Maarten counterpart, Leona Romeo-Marlin during a recent courtesy call at Government Headquarters. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Barbados and St. Maarten will be moving to strengthen their relationship in a number of areas, including disaster management.

This was the consensus reached recently during a courtesy call between Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Prime Minister of St. Maarten, Leona Romeo-Marlin, at Government Headquarters.

Ms. Mottley suggested that both teams should put together what were the key areas of cooperation between the two countries.

“We have a unique opportunity to build bridges between the two countries…. If we can work out between our two countries what are the immediate needs and where we can help each other in a meaningful way without going beyond the Atlantic to do so, then I think that would be great,” she stated.

She said Barbados, St. Maarten and countries in this region could not plan for September or October with any certainty because within 42 to 72 hours everything could change.

“So, with all the progress you have made, you can lose it all,” she added, lamenting that some international institutions were regrettably not comprehending the region’s vulnerability.

Ms. Romeo-Marlin agreed, saying that Governments have to keep pushing the subject of vulnerability and resilience so those international institutions would have to eventually address it.

She was in Barbados to attend the recently held Understanding Risk Conference, and stressed that even after the five-day meeting, the fight must be continued to ensure the participants did not become complacent when they returned to their respective countries and institutions. “We must keep it at the forefront,” she stressed.

She stated that she was impressed with the ability of some Caribbean countries to collect data during a natural disaster, analyze it and make sound decisions based on the information.

Ms. Mottley said Government recently had a massive planning session in which all of its agencies came together so the country’s readiness for the hurricane season could be assessed.

She added that there was a “clear improvement” from where the country was this time last year.

“I was pleasantly surprised at members of staff of the Barbados Statistical Service, who have developed an instrument for damage assessment for post disaster and have trained 649 people. We have agreed that we want to train another 400 or 500 so that we can really get the information returned in the shortest space of time,” she pointed out.

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