Castries, Saint Lucia: Saint Lucia Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has recently shared update regarding the initiatives taken to enhance the shock responsiveness of the Social Protection System of Saint Lucia. As per the update by the ministry, the official participated along with their counterparts from the World Food Program (WFP) of United Nations.
As per the update, since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting widespread social and economic displacement in its wake, the Ministry of Equity, as the government’s lead implementing agency for social assistance, with the input of stakeholders, has crafted Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be used by relevant government institutions in the delivery of social protection services to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in particular, in the aftermath of disasters or shocks.
“What we are doing here is to review protocols that we have developed that speak to clear roles and responsibilities in terms of responses. We have a role for NEMO as they are part of the forum here today. We have other agencies who are also part of that whole system. We will identify what those roles are, at what point we are, what we do next and how we do it so that, again, when you have that response, it is already established. We have rehearsed it, we have practised it, and now we can run seamlessly with it,” noted Permanent Secretary Velda Octave-Joseph.
Rapid mobilization is critical for effective response post exogenous shocks, and as such, the Equity Ministry is surveying a multiplicity of options for financing disaster risk response. According to PS Joseph, “We want to make sure that we can look at the modalities, look at the options and see what is feasible for Saint Lucia & put things in place so that once we trigger and activate, we are able to assess the resources that are required to support the response.”
It updated that the World Food Program (WFP) has remained a consistent partner with the Equity Ministry on several matters, including the disaster risk financing area. Program Policy Officer & Country Representative Lilia Ramjeawan says shock-responsive social protection is better administered when key government agencies like Equity, NEMO, Budget and Finance all operate in unison.
“Now that we are looking at shock responsive social protection, there is a need to look at bringing those institutions together and looking at how we collaborate and coordinate, identify roles and responsibilities. Without coordination from these different line ministries, you would find that efforts to link disaster risk management and the social sector would be difficult and pose problems,” stated Ramjeawan.
The ministry outlined that as part of a comprehensive reform process, the Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry is well underway in conducting a review of the social protection system in Saint Lucia and examining how existing mechanisms can be made more solid in order to adapt as well as once a shock occurs, provide critical support in a timely manner.