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GRD | Jul 11, 2024

FAO mobilising support for the Caribbean after Hurricane Beryl

/ Our Today

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(Photo: Roberto Sandoval for FAO)

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as part of the United Nations Emergency Technical Teams (UNETT), has deployed in the areas affected by Hurricane Beryl in the Caribbean to advance rapid needs assessment and preparation of proposals.

The FAO, in a statement on Wednesday (July 10), indicated that the deployment is being executed under the leadership of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), to restore production and livelihoods. It is supported through damage and needs assessment using drones and satellite remote sensing. This information includes ground-level data collection through surveys and key informant interviews.

All of this will guide response and recovery planning. Through the respective agriculture ministries and CDEMA, governments continue to assess the full extent of damage caused. 

(Photo: Leonor Fernández for FAO)

According to the assessments carried out so far, the primary humanitarian needs for the food security sector are focused on restoring the fishing capacity of artisanal fishermen and actors involved in the value chain, including processing, conservation, and transformation equipment and infrastructure; providing planting materials to recover affected crops as well as inputs for short-cycle crops that serve as an alternative source of food and income; cash transfers and other mechanisms so that the most vulnerable fishermen and farmers can access basic needs; and food assistance for the affected population.

Preliminary indications are that approximately 60,000 people require humanitarian assistance in Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Loss of fishing capacity, including damage to vessels, support infrastructure, and fishing equipment, and damage to crops and livestock, have been reported.

(Photo: Roberto Sandoval for FAO)

Agriculture in Jamaica has also suffered damage, with preliminary assessments indicating that several crops have been affected. Access to rural areas remains a challenge, and authorities estimate over US$6.4 million in damage to the agricultural sector, raising concerns about food security and livelihoods. Damaged crops include vegetables and fruits, which are sources of food on the island. In addition, the livestock and fisheries sectors have also experienced considerable damage.

Minister of Agriculture Floyd Green (right) speaks to St. Elizabeth greenhouse farmer, Vaughn Ebanks, about the damage to his facility in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl. Green led an assessment tour of farms in the parish on Saturday, July 6, 2024. (Photo: JIS)

FAO immediately mobilized technical assistance through its Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA) to support its coordination and response capacities in the affected countries. This includes the recruitment and rapid deployment of staff, field missions, logistics, partnerships, resource mobilisation, and technical assistance activities.

Mario Lubetkin, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, said: “We at FAO express our commitment to the Caribbean countries and reiterate our support for mobilising international cooperation for the response and the recovery of agricultural, livestock, and fisheries production in the affected countries.”

In addition, with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), FAO is working on a response plan that includes the needs identified, highlighting the needs of farmers and fisherfolk. This approach seeks to mobilise international attention on the need to support rapid response in a region where the hurricane season is expected to be very intense.

(Photo: Leonor Fernández for FAO)

To date, the ministries of agriculture of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada have officially requested FAO to support the recovery of their food production systems through emergency agricultural interventions critical to safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable.

Requests for assistance include the distribution of seeds, fertilizers, fishing inputs, repair of boats and critical processing, preservation and transformation infrastructure, and support for subsistence livestock farming, among others.

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