La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted on April 9, spewing ash and hot gas and forcing approximately 16,000 people in high-risk zones to evacuate. Subsequent explosions blanketed the main island of St. Vincent in ash and produced pyroclastic flows which significantly affected homes, livestock and vegetation. Displaced persons have been relocated to emergency shelters and private homes; however, as water systems across the country have been shut down for days and electrical power access is sporadic, the Government may need to evacuate persons further to neighboring islands.
To support the country in responding to the ongoing volcanic eruption and improving its emergency preparedness framework, the European Union and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery rapidly approved a USD $150,000 technical assistance grant for the country, in the frame of the Caribbean Regional Resilience Building Facility. The grant will focus on:
- Strengthening the National Emergency Management Organization’s (NEMO) operational framework for disaster management by revising its National Disaster Response Plan in light of the ongoing volcanic eruption and COVID-19 pandemic and providing capacity-building opportunities to NEMO and its key stakeholders.
- Bolstering the operational framework for school infrastructure resilience by supporting education continuity and enabling select schools to serve as both educational institutions and emergency shelters.
- and developing communications and knowledge management materials to capture and disseminate lessons learned and best practices.
The technical assistance grant also allows flexibility to respond to the country’s rapidly evolving needs. As such, following an urgent request from NEMO a day after the eruption began, funds were mobilized to support development of an emergency communications campaign to educate residents on the public health dangers of volcanic ash and ways to best ensure personal safety and secure property. Given that volcanic activity may continue for weeks or even months, this campaign will evolve to address the pressing communications needs of NEMO and the Government.
Activities are being coordinated with other GFDRR executed programs like the Canada Caribbean Resilience Facility.