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Caribbean States explore the use of social protection programmes to provide relief during emergencies

PROVIDENCIALES – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, are holding a high-level symposium on 27 June to discuss how national social protection programmes and systems can play a greater role in disaster risk management and in emergency response.

This month marks the start of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season which brings with it six months of uncertainty for Caribbean countries and overseas territories. Meanwhile, Caribbean governments and non-governmental organisations continue to work on preparedness and to help build resilience, and safeguard lives and livelihoods.

“For WFP, strengthening social protection systems and programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean is a priority,” said Miguel Barreto, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Generating evidence and fostering inter-institutional dialogue are some of the ways that we partner with countries and other institutions to strengthen national response capacities.”

Some countries in the Caribbean have already used shock responsive social protection with considerable success. Following the devastating 2017 hurricane season, the British Virgin Islands and Dominica leveraged and adapted their national social protection systems and programmes to respond to the needs of affected communities through cash-based transfers.

The impact and frequency of disasters can wipe out any existing efforts, erode gains, and hamper the ability of governments to protect people, pushing them further into poverty.

“Oftentimes when disasters happen, those who may already be the most vulnerable are affected the most,” said Regis Chapman, Head of the WFP’s Barbados-based Emergency Preparedness and Response Programme Office for the Caribbean. “If there are strong and shock-resistant social protection systems in place before a disaster, they can be adapted quickly and used much more effectively to distribute relief to people in need.”

The symposium, which is taking place on the eve of the 9th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of CDEMA in the Turks and Caicos Islands, gathers participants of CDEMA’s participating states. They will share their experiences and interact with technical experts on the challenges and opportunities for improving social protection systems.  

“This symposium on shock-responsive social protection builds on the region’s momentum in the collective efforts of the Caribbean nations to ensure resilience to climate induced impacts such as droughts and severe storms, as well as other risk drivers,” said Ronald Jackson, CDEMA Executive Director. “It’s a catalyst for all actors including government institutions and international organisations to work together to build a more resilient future against the impact of climate change.”

CDEMA has been working with participating states, regional organizations and partners in articulating the Resilience Pathway, a regional framework that will guide countries in achieving safer, more resilient and sustainable Caribbean societies. The CDEMA’s Executive Director says the symposium will help promote the advancement of social protection for the marginalized and most vulnerable.

Decision makers and technical experts will look at a variety of issues including data management, beneficiary targeting, delivery mechanisms, coordination and financing.

The event is sponsored by the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, and the Government of the United Kingdom.

Technical experts, academics, journalists, private sector partners and other stakeholders can follow the interactive discussions and post questions to the panellists by logging onto our live stream on

Watch the event live at

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The United Nations World Food Programme - saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

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