Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) Allen Chastanet is on behalf of his party making a case for a joint donor conference to be convened between the three governments of the countries mostly affected by the recent trough system in order to mobilize regional and international support for rebuilding efforts.
On Christmas Eve (December 24, 2013) the trough system dumped huge amounts of rain on the Lesser Antilles, resulting in floods and landslides which in turn caused considerable infrastructural damage and deaths. The worse affected nations were St. Vincent, Dominica and St. Lucia.
According to Chastanet in a press release, “the prime minister of Saint Lucia should take the initiative in piloting moves for such a conference which could be coordinated by the Saint Lucia-based OECS Secretariat.”
Chastanet said the conference should not only provide an opportunity for a collaborative effort in reconstruction, “but in finding solutions to the common problems that we face and in the interest of the long term sustainability of these islands.”
He, according to the release, is convinced that the scope of damage caused by the heavy rains has underscored the vulnerability of the region to natural disasters. He said this has added to each country’s existing economic woes and only compounds the social and economic challenges facing each nation.
Noting that the trough ravaged countries are all part of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Chastanet said the proposed joint conference would send a “signal to the international community that we are serious about regional integration and are prepared to take it to the next level” since “many in the donor community have expressed a preference for regional approaches in providing development assistance and are likely to be attracted by such a proposition.
Chastanet took the opportunity to again lament the loss of life for which he extended condolences.
The UWP leader further told Saint Lucians and the wider region that his team has “always been a party which promoted regional integration as a key objective and that the founding fathers of the party were among the forerunners of the regional integration movement both at the CARICOM and OECS levels.”
In the release, Chastanet said this call for a regional approach is “consistent with the philosophy” of the UWP.
“This is an opportunity for us to focus on the serious economic, social and environmental circumstances which confront us together, and we should seize that opportunity. We should also demonstrate that we have the will to strengthen the institutional base of the OECS and not only talk in regional terms, but that there is the will to act,” Chastanet said in the release said.