Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas praises research partnership on disaster risk reduction and climate change

June 28, 2019
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Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas praises research partnership on disaster risk reduction and climate change
June 28, 2019

Following several consecutive years of serious hurricane impacts, The Bahamas launched an aggressive new program on June 26, 2019 to research disaster risk, preparedness, and climate change in partnership with Pacific Disaster Center (PDC)—a University of Hawaiʻi applied science and research center. The nation’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Kevin Peter Turnquest, delivered keynote remarks during the opening ceremony to uphold the importance of the partnership. He described the year-long National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment (NDPBA) as an imperative step towards risk reduction and true sustainability for The Bahamas.

“We recall that within the past few years alone, The Bahamas has been seriously affected by at least three major hurricanes—all category four storms or above. The impact of Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew, and Irma on The Bahamas has been reported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean to cost approximately 820 million dollars,” said Turnquest. He emphasized that such a significant cost to an economy like The Bahamas is unsustainable. “Through the NDPBA partnership, The Bahamas and PDC will work together to address the unique disaster risks and sustainability challenges of small island nations and states,” he said. He further noted that the baseline assessment creates an opportunity for The University of The Bahamas Small Island Sustainability Centre and Hawaiʻi’s Institute for Sustainability and Resilience to collectively study the most pressing questions and emerging threats related to climate change.

“Over the last 130 years, a 1.2 degree Celsius increase in temperature has led to a number of important impacts around world,” said Dr. Chip Fletcher during video lecture delivered remotely from the University of Hawaiʻi’s Institute for Sustainability and Resilience. According to Dr. Fletcher, temperature changes correlate with a 15-fold increase in flooding, a 7-fold increase in wildfires, extreme increases in hurricane impacts, floods, freshwater shortages, and a shortage in agricultural food production worldwide. “By 2050, the situation will grow to a very severe level,” said Dr. Fletcher who cited research projecting the population increase will lead to a 60 percent rise in demand for food staples, while at the same time a diminishing yield in production by 15 percent. “Where we have food and water shortages, we commonly have violent conflict and a rise in authoritarian governments,” explained Dr. Fletcher who said the U.S. military has been aware of the correlation for several years and views climate change as a major threat to global peace and security.

The kick-off workshop and knowledge exchange for the baseline assessment was co-hosted by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Bahamas National Geographic Information Systems Centre (BNGISC), and PDC with funding and support from the U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). The event drew participation by nearly 100 representatives from across public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors and was the beginning of cross-sectoral engagement planned throughout the assessment. Using scientific methodologies, the program will support The Bahamas’ Vision 2040 National Development Plan and international commitments to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

“This international model for cooperation demonstrates how we can leverage shared resources and expertise to build capacities and strengthen stability. This initiative brings together our governments, universities, and public-private sector partnerships to cooperate on one of the most challenging issues of our time. By bringing together experts from across sectors, we can bridge gaps in knowledge to reduce risk and find solutions to responding to crises,” said the U.S. Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Stephanie Bowers during her opening ceremony remarks.

NEMA’s Director Captain Stephen Russell added that, as a strong nation of united family islands, The Bahamas has leveraged its culture of resilience for hundreds of years to adapt to and shape its changing environment. “Through this longstanding partnership with PDC and the Baseline Assessment program, The Bahamas can take the next step in its journey of growth to address the challenges that we have yet to face,” said Russell who went on to explain that NEMA has partnered with regional and international agencies for decades to enhance mitigation, response, and recovery capabilities with the aim of long-term national resilience. “Over the past 10 years, the partnership with PDC has helped to establish a brand new National Emergency Operations Center, with trained and effective staff; it has helped to implement the policies and protocols to effectively utilize this resource; to improve communication between islands; and most importantly, to support our brothers and sisters on the family islands.”

“As The Bahamas is wrapping up disaster preparedness month, it’s appropriate that we kick off the baseline assessment program,” said Bradley A. Golden, Humanitarian Assistance Program Specialist with USNORTHCOM. “The United States Northern Command’s Humanitarian Assistance Program’s number one priority is to collaborate with you, your ministries, and the public and private sector to mitigate risk and build resilience [at the national and community level],” said Golden who spoke as a strong supporter of the partnership initiative.

“Through the baseline assessment program, we leverage scientific data and conduct cutting-edge research to inform evidence-based decision making that leads to stronger disaster risk reduction outcomes,”  said PDC’s Director of Global Operations Dr. Erin Hughey when asked about the program. “We are on pace to have 20 percent the world’s most vulnerable countries assessed by the year 2020, with granular national and subnational data to help fill gaps in capacities,” said Dr. Hughey who sees the research as a catalyst for building regional and global partnerships and guiding risk reduction investments. All data collected and analyzed through the collaborative research is standardized and returned back to stakeholders in tabular and geospatial format for future use. In addition, the information is visually displayed and integrated into PDC’s geospatial platform, DisasterAWARE, and made freely available to disaster management stakeholders for operational response, mitigation, planning, and recovery.

During the event, Dr. Hughey spoke about the origin of the National Disaster Preparedness Baseline Assessment (NDPBA). She said it is a program started by PDC to help nations build resilience and to engage experts from across sectors to take part in lowering disaster risk. According to Dr. Hughey, PDC is located in one of the world’s most remote island chains and regularly faces extreme threats from tropical cyclones, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, flash floods, landslides, and wildfires. Out of necessity to protect its own community, PDC has developed some of the most advanced disaster management technology, science, and research methodologies which are applicable not only on the Hawaiian Islands and in the continental United States, but in multiple contexts everywhere around the world.

Bahamas NDPBA 2019

What our partners are saying about us...

Title Address Description
Kenta Hamasaki
Honolulu, HI, USATHE CONSULATE GENERAL OF JAPAN, HONOLULU, HI (2016)

"Aloha Julie. Hello. After the registration [for DisasterAWARE], I started to receive warnings such as Typhoon Meranti. That data contains necessary info and is so graphic that it's easy to know at a glance how the impact is. This is very important for our duties. Thank you again."

Paulo Bayly
FijiPERMANENT SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF INFRASTRUCTURE & TRANSPORT, FIJI (2016)

"Thank you and your team for so quickly responding to our needs."

Ana Ake
TongaMINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS, KINGDOM OF TONGA (2017)

"I was first introduced to EMOPS (DisasterAWARE)...during a HA/DR training in Auckland this year. I've worked with several tools and it is obvious that EMOPS is the only sustainable tool that is available and is openly available."

Jonathan Colwell
California, USAGOESPATIAL COORDINATOR, DHS-FEMA REGION 9 (2016)

"EMOPS (DisasterAWARE) made my day so much easier while monitoring [Tropical Cyclone] AMOS. Data that I thought I'd spend a good part of the morning digging for was available, as were the tools to draw polygons and annotate and meet the requirement."

John Andoe
Texas, USAEMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR, TEXAS HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (2017)

“Keep up the good work. I'm using EMOPS (DisasterAWARE) in Texas to monitor Hurricane Harvey.”

Matt Lott
Virginia, USAEMERGENCY COORDINATOR OF SAFETY, SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (2016)

"I work for the Virginia DOT as an emergency planner. I would like to be added to your distribution list for awareness products. I followed work during Hurricane Mathew and would like to avail our organization of your great products."

USDA Foreign Agriculture Service officer
Washington, DC, USAUSDA (2016)

"Your suggestion that we look at PDC content and capabilities has really paid off. We partnered with them, and are ingesting their global disaster feeds into [Global Agricultural & Disaster Assessment System] GADAS. The addition of a couple of our own applications to quickly delineate impacted areas and extract agricultural acreage and population has proved quite valuable."

Christopher Vaughan
500 C St SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA

FEMA NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS GEOSPATIAL INFORMATION OFFICER (2015)

"My sincerest thanks to the PDC team during this event. [Tropical Cyclone Dolphin] Your professionalism and dedication to the mission is to be commended. I'm sure we will have plenty to discuss/improve upon in the weeks to follow. Thanks again for all the support. Great job team."

Daniel B. Whitley
1400 Independence Ave SW #5071, Washington, DC 20250, USAACTING ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR, FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE (2017)

"On behalf of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Services, I would like to express my appreciation and full support of the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) for its essential contributions...with data and support...we've been able to improve our global agricultural production and disaster assessment analyses, products, and decision outcomes."

Jesse Rozelle
500 C St SW, Washington, DC 20024, USAPROGRAM MANAGER, NATURAL HAZARDS RISK ASSESSMENT PROGRAM, FEMA (2017)

"Aloha PDC team: I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for all of your support during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The modeling and risk assessment support you have provided to FEMA has been incredibly helpful for our response efforts and our emergency management partners. I'm looking forward to a continued partnership."

Lisa Samson on PDC products during hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria
Miami, FL, USA

ASSISTANT DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EXERCISES & COALITION AFFAIRS, U.S. SOUTHCOM (2017)

"[I] wanted to pass along that the reports that PDC is generating are succinct and extremely informative. I've passed along to other colleagues in the HQs staff and other COCOMs to peak their interest. Well done!"

William I. Clark
9301 NW 33rd St, Doral, FL 33178, USA

HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE DIVISION CHIEF, U.S. SOUTHCOM (2017)

"Our success during response efforts is directly related to PDC's contribution. The set of tools offered by your decision support system (DisasterAWARE), the large amount of data, the modeling and assessments, and skill set of your staff are unique. They provide my team with great situational awareness in a timely manner, enabling rapid and informed decision making in critical periods."

Brian Abbott
Doral, FL, USALIEUTENANT COLONEL, PUBLIC-PRIVATE COOPERATION PROGRAM COORDINATOR, U.S. SOUTHCOM (2016)

"As a Public-Private Cooperation (PPC) Program Coordinator, PDC's vision and leadership translates into strategies that enable others to effectively achieve results."

Gayle Outten-Moncour
The Bahamas

BAHAMAS DISASTER RECOVERY MANAGER AND FIRST ASSISTANT SECRETARY

Jeremy K. Delancy
Nassau, The Bahamas

SENIOR ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF SOCIAL SERVICES & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS (2016)

"I wanted [PDC] to know that I used DisasterAWARE during Hurricane Joaquin and it performed admirably. Some further training will be needed for us to use it to its full capabilities. One of the persons who was quite impressed is Chief Meteorological Officer, Mr. Arnold King."

Carolann Albury
E Bay St, Nassau, The Bahamas

DIRECTOR, BAHAMAS NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (2017)

"…thank you all for the assistance you have rendered on so many occasions to The BNGISC but more importantly to The Bahamas."

Marcus Elten
New York, NY, USAUNITED NATIONS OCHA (2016)

"I was impressed with how quickly you guys developed situational awareness products...quite impressed with your team's work."

Claudia Mateo
Dominican RepublicPRESIDENT, REPUBLICA DOMINCANA COMISIÓN NACIONAL DE ENERGÍA

"Thank you for being aware of our situation and for the sending of images for analysis."

Paul Ugarte
GuatemalaCONRED SPECIAL ADVISOR TO THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF GUATEMALA

Eric Yarrell
Comayagua, Honduras

LIEUTENANT COLONEL, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, JTF-BRAVO (2017)

"JTF-Bravo sincerely appreciated the HADR decision-support information provided by the Pacific Disaster Center during Hurricane Irma response… has been both timely and valuable support of current operations."

Augusto Moreno O'Phelan
PeruDIRECTOR GENERAL FOR POLICY AND STRATEGY, MINISTRY OF DEFENSE, PERU (2016)

"Many thanks for your important information about the ongoing outbreak of Zika virus in the Americas."

Mr. Eliezer Serrano, Jr.
Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, BrazilLEAD DATA FUSION MANAGER, U.S. SOUTHCOM JOINT OPERATIONS CENTER (2016)

PDC's support in the SOUTHCOM region and its commitment to promote public safety were unfailing during the Rio Olympics. [DisasterAWARE] greatly enhanced our situational awareness and offered an abundance of useful data and safety monitoring information."

Don Price
Myanmar (Burma)DISASTER MANAGEMENT ADVISOR, U.S. FOREST SERVICE, MYANMAR (2017)

"The big floods in Southern China are causing some real problems for Vietnam and Myanmar and DMRS/EMOPS (DisasterAWARE) is the best visualization for this regional flood situation."

Susan Cruz
PhilippinesDIRECTOR, OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE (2015)

"We are very appreciative of your support to our country."

Giuseppe Timperio
21 Lower Kent Ridge Rd, Singapore 119077RESEARCH ENGINEER, ADVANCED SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT & HUMANITARIAN LOGISTICS, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE (2016)

"I knew of 'InAWARE' and I am impressed by its capabilities. Information sharing in the humanitarian context is still a big challenge (especially in ASEAN), and the efforts you are putting to close this gap are highly appreciated, and indeed highly useful for the whole humanitarian community."

Dr. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho
Matraman, East Jakarta City, Jakarta 13120, Indonesia

HEAD OF DATA, INFORMATION, AND PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR INDONESIA'S NATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AGENCY, BNPB

Harlan V. Hale
Banten, IndonesiaREGIONAL ADVISOR, USAID/DCHA/OFDA/EAP

"From a disaster management perspective, these agencies [PDC, HOT, PetaBencana.id] have combined their skills, have worked well together, and have created something that is really innovative, useful, and can actually improve both the disaster response by the government and citizen's participation in it as well."

Willem Rampangilei
Jl. Anyar No.12, RT.2/RW.1, Leuwinutug, Kec. Citeureup, Bogor, Jawa Barat 16810, IndonesiaCHIEF, BNPB

"As I mentioned when we met recently at BNPB HQ Jakarta, I want to extend my appreciation to you, to your colleagues at PDC, and to USAID/OFDA for your hard work and dedication – and for your tangible results – in building capabilities and capacities for disaster risk reduction in Indonesia, especially in the area of hazard monitoring and early warning."

Dr. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho
West Java, IndonesiaHEAD OF DATA, INFORMATION, AND PUBLIC RELATIONS, BNPB (2017)

"Thank you very much for your support in Mt Agung eruption. Very useful to us."