Tuesday 20 October, 2020

Gender-transformative hurricane resilience during the COVID-19 crisis

Kyana Bowen, UN Women Multi-Country Officer Caribbean Project Manager for the Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate, and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) Project.

Kyana Bowen, UN Women Multi-Country Officer Caribbean Project Manager for the Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate, and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) Project.

Avoid. Reduce. Transfer. Assume. 

These terms are used to describe decisions we make in our daily lives about managing risk, including disaster risk. 

The impact of natural hazards is not only influenced by their intensity, but also by people’s vulnerability, which is directly related to socio-economic factors influencing exposure and the ability to recover. 

These factors also include elements of gender inequality.

Many Caribbean countries are still in recovery mode from the impacts of environmental hazards, such as hurricanes and tropical storms, which caused more than US$118 billion in damage and losses over the past 3 years (CDEMA, 2020). Against this backdrop, Caribbean countries and their people, women, men, boys, and girls alike are now managing responses to the COVID-19 crisis.

Physical distancing and quarantine measures, curfews, border closures, and virtual engagements have become paramount to saving lives and livelihoods as a result of the crisis. While these restrictions are critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19, they have had a detrimental impact on the Caribbean economy, citizen security, and gender equality. 

Tourism, which contributes to more than 25% of most Caribbean countries’ GDPs has stalled, a significant number of women who are the majority in the informal sector are now unemployed and, a stark increase in violence against women and children has been reported during the lockdown.

The extent of the socio-economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to shape the “new normal” for the CARICOM Member States. 

A 1.5% contraction of Gross Domestic Product has already been estimated by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, 2020). 

While governments balance this “new normal,” there was also an ‘above-average’ forecast for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which takes place from June 1 to November 30.

In the face of these challenges, cost-effective prevention and preparedness measures are critical.

 

Kyana Bowen currently serves as the UN Women Multi-Country Officer Caribbean Project Manager for the Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate, and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean (EnGenDER) Project.

She aims to highlight the link between stakeholder and beneficiary input to physical planning as a mechanism to build disaster resilient communities through policy and plan development.

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