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Sunday, September 24, 2017
CASTRIES, St Lucia, Aug 28 2017 (IPS) - Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet warns that the clock is running out for small states such as those in the Caribbean as they struggle to develop infrastructure capable of withstanding changes in weather conditions – and that wealthier nations need to step up levels of aid.
“There is no greater example of that than what took place in Haiti,” Chastanet said, referring to Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked a billion dollars worth of damage to the impoverished island last October.
“Did we not know that Haiti was in a hurricane belt? Did we not know that there was clearly a trend of increasing storms? That all we needed was a trough? What took place last year, the world and all of us must bear responsibility for. The Haitian people were left to confront one of the strongest and most devastating hurricanes we have seen in a long time with cardboard boxes.”
St. Lucia was also hit by Matthew when it was still categorized as a tropical storm. The island experienced the most severe effects among Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) nations, with damage to homes and businesses accompanied by blocked roads and flooding.
Chastanet, who was speaking at a ceremony for the exchange of notes for Japanese grant aid of EC$35 million to the government of St. Lucia for the reconstruction of two major bridges, said time is of the essence.
“Time is against us. I say all of this to underscore that point and for us not to take for granted the significance of today. It is very easy for us to continue to come to these signings of agreements and almost take it for granted what we are receiving. This project has the opportunity and potential to protect the lives and the assets of many people,” he said.
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