Committee will handle international aid

Any international relief aid goods that come to the Cayman Islands after a disaster in the future will be managed by new sub-committee of the National Hurricane Committee.

The 2006 National Hurricane Plan details the activities of new sub-committee, the need for which became apparent through experiences after Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Committee Chairman, Auditor General Dan Duguay, said the Government had never really talked about how to handle international aid prior to Ivan.

‘We didn’t have a plan for it,’ he said. ‘[After Hurricane Ivan] everything was ad hoc. We did the best we could.’

The purpose of the new policy in the Hurricane Plan is to ensure an accounting and initial distribution procedure that accounts for all goods received and distributes those goods in a system that is fair, impartial and to those with the greatest need.

The accounting part of the plan made the offices of the Auditor General and Internal Audit the logical choices to head up the sub-committee. Mr. Duguay said that whole staff of those two agencies would be utilised for the task of international aid management in the event of a disaster requiring such aid.

Mr. Duguay said aid goods would be divided into two categories: Immediate Distribution Supplies, which are defined as food and water; and Accountable Items, which would include such things as generators, chainsaws and tarps.

The new system will not only allow for the effective and equitable distribution of relief goods once they are here, but it will also help international aid organisations in knowing what is still needed.

‘After Ivan, we’d get questions like ‘how many tarps do you need’,’ said Mr. Duguay. ‘We would say, ‘well, we need a lot’. I’d like to have a better response than that.’

With no system in place, there was no way of recording who received relief goods after Hurricane Ivan.

‘We received generators and chainsaws that were given out. No one knows where they are now,’ he said. ‘We would want to get some of those things back ultimately.’

Inventory control points will be established at Owen Roberts International Airport and at the Port facility in George Town to record all incoming aid goods. The goods would then be assembled at main distribution area, the location of which has yet to be determined.

‘After Ivan, we used the courier building behind Customs that is in the secure part of the airport,’ Mr. Duguay said. ‘Hopefully, we could use it again.’

Relief goods would then be distributed in cooperation with the Essential Relief Services sub-committee from the holding area to the various District Emergency Response Sub-committees that are established as part of the National Hurricane Plan.

The International Aid Management sub-committee would also co-ordinate its efforts with the local Red Cross.

‘In fact, we’re doing their accounting for them separate of Government,’ Mr. Duguay said.

One goal of the committee is to be able to accurately determine what relief goods are on inventory at any given time, Mr. Duguay said.

‘I’d like to go to the National Hurricane Committee every morning and say ‘this is what we have available’.’

The sub-committee will use a perpetual inventory system that updates the stores of goods as they come in and go out. Computer software has been acquired to run the system. Should it be impossible to run computers, Mr. Duguay said there is a manual back-up plan.

Mr. Duguay said his sub-committee probably would not be involved in any needs assessment process to determine who got what aid when it came to the Accountable Items.

Working along with the Essential Relief Services committee, the International Aid Management committee would determine, according to prioritised need, what percentage of the available food and water would be sent to each of the Immediate Distribution Centres on the island. Need prioritisation would correspond roughly with the percentage of the population for which the distribution centre is responsible.

Transportation of goods to the Immediate Distribution Centres is one part of the plan not finalised yet, Mr. Duguay said.

‘We’re working out the details now,’ he said.