The emergency response capabilities of the Saint Lucia Fire and Emergency Department will be enhanced through a Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) loan valued at just over USD 11 million.
The financing will underwrite the cost of upgrading equipment available to fire officers, enhancing fire and emergency infrastructure for more resilience to climate and environmental hazards, and improving the work environment. Officers will also receive industry-standard training to improve skill levels, and, where warranted, psychosocial support when impacted by traumatic events in the line of duty. The project aligns with the CDB’s strategic objective of increasing resilience and adaptive capacity to disaster risk and climate change impacts and building environmental resilience.
“The challenges being experienced by the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) are particularly evident during extreme weather events such as storms, hurricanes, droughts, and the secondary hazards which result in floods, and bushfires. CDB’s support will allow the SLFS to provide more effective and efficient coverage across the island for the protection and preservation of life and property from fires, floods, dangerous chemicals, and other disasters,” said CDB’s Director of Projects, Mr. Daniel Best.
He added that the Bank’s intervention is timely as projections of future climate impacts indicate a likely increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and greater variance in rainfall.
“In areas already affected by wildfire hazards, the fire season is likely to increase in duration and include a greater number of incidents because weather conditions could support fire spread and intensity due to longer periods without rain. These projected changes require that the already under-resourced SLFS is adequately equipped to better manage the increasing emergency response needed,” Mr. Best explained.
The Government of Saint Lucia (GOSL), through its Medium-Term Development Strategy 2021-2026 identified vulnerability reduction and resilience-building across sectors as critical to achieving its broad objective of a more resilient Saint Lucia. The Strategy also recognises investments in disaster risk reduction due to extreme climatic events as a key development priority.
The project, which will be financed by a loan to the GOSL from the CDB’s Special Funds Resources, will be implemented over three and half years and is scheduled to start in November 2023.