Sunday, April 21, 2024

EDITORIAL: Comfort zone that’ll do us little good


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The?recent?announcement that Barbados’ ability to respond properly to any major natural disaster remains weak – very weak, actually – has gone virtually without comment from those parties you would think such news would be of interest to.
Maybe it’s because following on the discomforting revelation by Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Christel Saab has come a solution of sorts: that the IDB and the Barbados Coastal Zone Management Unit are collaborating on a $42 million Coastal Risk Assessment And Management Programme (CRMP) to seriously improve the sustainability of our shorelines and their environs.
The programme is to “kick into overdrive” this year, what little is left of it, bringing the officially touted improvement to such vulnerable coastal areas as Holetown in St James, Rockley and St Lawrence Gap in Christ Church – notably in the tourist belts and the indigenous Tent Bay in St Lucy.
But any such environment improvement programme will take time – much time. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment Gayle Francis-Vaughan speaks of five years, in three phases.
It is the clearest point she makes. For we are as puzzled about her “comprehensive evaluation of the risks and vulnerability of Barbados to sea level-related hazards” as we are about her expected “influence . . . towards robust environmental protection, financial growth and national resilience” through “renewed commitments from the global community, as well as the country’s commitment to a green economy and development of a new tourism master plan”.
There is no gainsaying, even with all the opaque rhetoric, that some organized plan to take proper correction of Barbados’ coastal frailty is worthy of our gratitude. But we must be ever mindful time may not be on our side, and care ought to be taken not to be too content with our intentions. It would only take a minor disaster to derail our best plans.
Ms Saab notes that many of the losses incurred in our coastal zone will be detrimental to “50 per cent of the population and economic activities, including tourism, are concentrated”.
Still, the sooner our shoreline and coastal zone stabilization programme gets going the better. And it behoves Barbadians and other citizens who own properties within the earmarked coastal protection belts to cooperate with the powers that be – for their own good and safety, and that of the rest of the citizenry.
By now we should have been shaken from our comfort zone of nonchalance.


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