Through an airplane window, it’s easy to see why the world calls this place Paradise. I travel often for work and from my seat in the sky I have come to know the beautiful topography of the Caribbean: Guyana’s lush green, Barbados’ turquoise shores, Trinidad’s northern range. Each landscape is unique; all different members of the same family. And while I am proud to be part of the Caribbean family, the islands of The Bahamas are home. Today the view of my home is different from the one I know so well. Hurricane Dorian’s wrath has claimed many lives, devastated homes, property and livelihoods. I share the shock and grief from this tragedy. But I also feel hope and pride, because I know we are not alone.
Hurricane Dorian is a life changing disaster. For three days Bahamians felt the effects of this category 5 Hurricane as it lingered over the northwest and central Bahamas. The Abaco Islands bore the brunt of the storm’s 220mph winds, leaving behind precious lives lost and apocalyptic desolation. The Abaco I remember is a stunning place. Treasure Cay and its iconic hotel attracted visitors from around the world. Over the years, as its popularity grew so did the industrious nature of its people. Now, much of that progress has been lost. But we pick up the pieces and begin the task of rebuilding the yachtsman’s paradise.
Catastrophic events like Hurricane Dorian underscore our need to prepare. Hurricanes are an annual occurrence in the Caribbean which faces other disasters like earthquakes and droughts. This is the new normal and we must be ready for disasters while also building resilience on individual, community, national and regional levels. In January the Government of The Bahamas took a proactive step in its preparation for disasters by tapping into the IDB’s Contingent Credit Facility for Natural Disasters. The $100 million USD contingent disaster facility is triggered based on the location, type and intensity of natural disasters. The Government of The Bahamas has signaled its intention to use this facility to fund urgent relief efforts. And help has been pouring in. The Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Barbados have already pledged their support and more national leaders are doing the same. The private sector is on board too. Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and The Walt Disney Company pledged to donate $1 million USD to relief efforts. Then there are nonprofits like Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen which arrived in The Bahamas ready to provide thousands of hot meals.
The Caribbean Climate- Smart Accelerator
Building resilience is key to the Caribbean. We’ve partnered to help establish the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator. CCSA is a Caribbean-led coalition to drive resiliency in the region. It was formed by Caribbean leaders in response to the 2017 hurricane season, which decimated large parts of the region. Through private and public partnerships, the organization is building more resilient countries, cities and industries and stronger infrastructure that can withstand the effects of climate-disaster. CCSA is just one way that the public and private sector groups can work together to tackle a problem we all face: the onslaught of nature.
After the Storm
In The Bahamas the immediate task is to rebuild. We will work with the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to determine reconstruction costs. It will take time and resources to make the affected areas habitable and sustainable once more. The reality of climate change means we must do more than rebuild. Governments need to promote policies that make resilience a central feature of our future cities and infrastructure. Dorian dealt us a ferocious blow. I am confident we can come back stronger, and the international community will stand with The Bahamas in the task ahead.
Featured Image: Overhead view of a row of damaged structures in the Bahamas from a Coast Guard Elizabeth City C-130 aircraft after Hurricane Dorian shifts north Sept. 3, 2019. Hurricane Dorian made landfall Saturday and intensified into Sunday. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam Stanton
A trained economist, Mrs. Turner-Jones has over 25 years’ experience in macroeconomics and economic development, with special emphasis on the Caribbean. She served the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in senior posts for over 20 years. She was a former Deputy Division Chief for the IMF’s Caribbean II Division, Western Hemisphere Department and a former advisor to the Executive Director for Canada, Ireland, and the Caribbean. Prior to joining the IMF, Mrs. Turner-Jones served as the Deputy Manager of the Research Department for the Central Bank of The Bahamas.
She holds a master’s degree in Economics from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. She is also an alumnus of the University of Toronto, and United World Colleges (Lester Pearson College).
She has to her credit five research works with 17 citations including “Caribbean Renewal: Tackling Fiscal and Debt Challenges.”
A member of the International Women’s Forum, Mrs. Turner Jones is passionate about financial inclusion, gender equity, children, vulnerable communities and the environment.
She is an ardent champion of the IDB’s vision to improve lives in the Caribbean by creating vibrant economies where people are safe, productive, and happy. She believes strengthening client relations, country and civil partnerships are integral to the success of the IDB’s work. A fitness and tennis buff, she is married to Dennis Jones a former IMF economist. They are the proud parents of three daughters; Bronwyn Huggins, Eleanor and Rhian Jones.