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Barbados and Japan sign agreement to strengthen disaster preparedness

The Governments of Barbados and Japan have signed a million dollar agreement aimed at reducing Barbados’ vulnerability to disaster and increasing this country’s resilience.

The Agreement for the Japanese Economic and Social Development Programme was signed yesterday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, one day before the official opening of the Japanese Embassy in Barbados. It provides the Government of Barbados with one hundred million Japanese Yen (US$887,614).

After initialing the document on behalf of the Government of Barbados, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, noted that the agreement came out of talks held during the CARICOM-Japan Friendship Year in 2014, where the Government of Japan committed to provide funding to the Governments of CARICOM Countries in the area of Disaster Risk Reduction, as part of its assistance programme.

She said Government was grateful for the assistance from Japan and pointed out that the funds would be put to good use.

“As a Small Island Developing State, with a densely populated low-lying coastal zone and tourism-based economy, Barbados has the potential to be severely impacted by meteorological, geological and biological hazards. Therefore, it is necessary to make strategic investments in reducing risks likely to be faced by Barbadian communities, and this agreement with the Government of Japan contributes to the Government’s overall plan of disaster reduction,” the minister said.

Senator McClean added that the agreement would open the doorway for even closer ties between Barbados and Japan, which would allow for the development of initiatives in areas of mutual interest and lend invaluable support in the context of regional organizations and in international fora.

Ambassador of Japan to Barbados, Mitsuhiko Okada, who signed the agreement on behalf of Japan, said that his Government was aware of the growing sense of urgency that countries in the Caribbean have toward addressing their vulnerabilities to natural disasters and climate change.

“It is our hope that this grant aid programme will significantly reduce disaster damages in Barbados in the future and will aid Barbados in adapting itself to climate change,” he said.

Okada added that even though Barbados had graduated from receiving Official Development Assistance, (ODA) as specified by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, (OECD) Japan decided to make the funds available as it recognized the importance of disaster risk reduction.

“The Development Cooperation Charter established in February 2015, as the foundation of Japan’s development cooperation, recognizes that small island countries in the Caribbean have vulnerabilities that are peculiar to small island states. The Charter stipulates that Japan will provide assistance based on individual development needs while bearing in mind the peculiarities of small island countries,” he explained.

Barbados and Japan formally established diplomatic relations on August 29, 1967.

Courtesy: Caribbean 360

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