Forecasters predict an above-average 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, with the possibility of as many as 20 named storms. This alone presents serious challenges for the Caribbean region but is especially dire in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. First, the capacity of humanitarian organizations has been stretched thin due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially in regard to staff resources, critical supplies, and donor resources. Second, governments and humanitarian actors must now rethink how they respond to disasters in a way that follows best practices for reducing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting at-risk groups. Communication difficulties, varying health facility capacity, and social distancing measures have the potential to complicate response efforts, including typical measures like hurricane shelters. In light of these issues, CGI is launching a preparedness series designed to bring together the key stakeholders and leaders from across sectors needed to inform and shape how the CGI Action Network community prepares for — and responds to — this year’s hurricane season. Scheduled sessions are listed below. Please contact [email protected] for information on registration.
Preparedness Series Kickoff: COVID-19’s Effect on Hurricane Preparedness and Response
Date: Monday, June 1, 2:00 p.m. EDT
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this hurricane season presents unique challenges that will require a cohesive response from all sectors. For example, how can you prepare, coordinate, and respond to hurricanes while maintaining the best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and confronting the drain on resources caused by the crisis? This call will launch the Clinton Global Initiative’s Preparedness Series by discussing results from a survey of Action Network members and other global and local response organizations and highlighting the trends found in this research. Attendees will hear from industry leaders representing humanitarian, government, multilateral, and private sector perspectives who are preparing to respond to the unique challenges of the 2020 hurricane season.
Strengthening Food Security
Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2:00 p.m. EDT
According to the Caribbean COVID-19 Food Security & Livelihoods Impact Survey launched by CARICOM, small island states are experiencing loss of income, increased food prices, and limited market access due to the pandemic. The economic impacts of the crisis exacerbate the existing risks to food systems posed by high import rates and natural disasters. In an effort to reduce the recent supply chain disruptions and strengthen long-term food security, countries across the region are investing in preparedness and resiliency efforts including the investment in farm infrastructure and food production, the stockpiling of seeds and other inputs, and the promotion of community-level engagement such as the planting backyard gardens. On this call, attendees will hear from voices across the region discussing plans to take immediate steps to restore and strengthen food security for the upcoming hurricane season. Focus will be placed on tactical strategies to promote food security, like the adoption of backyard gardening and investing in infrastructure and capacity building.
Health Care in the Face of Hurricanes and COVID-19
Date: Friday, June 5, 2:00 p.m. EDT
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has stretched public health systems and health care providers in unprecedented ways, and now, health care providers in the Caribbean must also contend with forecasts for an above-average 2020 hurricane season. In the context of COVID-19, this is even more challenging, considering the need to maintain and administer high levels of care to minimize the spread of the disease. Additionally, emotional issues such as anxiety and depression that have emerged from recent disasters and COVID-19 lockdowns are likely to be exacerbated by the onset of hurricane season, raising the need to find innovative ways to support mental health at a distance. Opportunities exist to provide care while minimizing person-to-person contact and meeting people where they are through methods like mobile medical units and telehealth. During this session, stakeholders will discuss the unique challenges facing health providers in the region leading into hurricane season and highlight strategies to mitigate these threats and focus on the continuation of care for COVID-19 and other key health challenges.
Renewable Energy and Critical Facilities
Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2:00 p.m. EDT
As health care systems across the Caribbean brace for an above-average hurricane season, it is more important than ever to ensure health facilities have access to reliable, resilient, and renewable power. Given the already immense burden placed on Caribbean health care systems due to COVID-19, local communities leaders, governments, utilities, and the private sector have a renewed mandate to continue to implement the adoption of sustainable and resilient energy systems. In a range of different contexts — like hospitals and health centers, schools, storm shelters, resiliency hubs, critical food distribution centers, and even individual homes — there are more opportunities to introduce resilient microgrids, mobile solar generation, and backup batteries as solutions to fortify the health care system in the Caribbean while creating new, green jobs. On this call, speakers will discuss different approaches to energy preparedness in advance of the 2020 hurricane season and consider the role of renewable energy as a pillar of the long-term economic recovery in the Caribbean.
Adapting Response Efforts to Challenges of COVID-19
Date: Thursday, June 11, 2:00 p.m. EDT
COVID-19 poses significant challenges to existing guidelines and best practices for hurricane preparedness and response efforts. For example, how do you safely provide shelter for community members in the event of a natural disaster while still maintaining social distancing guidelines? How do you quickly and safely restore critical stockpiles of supplies for this hurricane season that have already been depleted due to COVID-19 response? How much faith should we be placing in existing supply chains and transport systems that the pandemic has disrupted? In this call, speakers will map out the current challenges to hurricane preparedness and response in the context of COVID-19 and begin to offer solutions for how to tailor traditional response efforts to meet the public health needs of this pandemic.