Washington DC, 9 May 2022 (TDI): USAID’s Administrator, Samantha Power met with the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, in Washington DC. They discussed key areas for collaboration on issues of mutual interest.

They talked about the specific issues that small Caribbean island states are facing. They also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, clean energy, disaster resilience, and the limitations of concessional finance.

Administrator Power emphasized USAID’s commitment to working closely with the Barbados government and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The commitment extends to a variety of development goals.

The strategic cooperation between the US and CARICOM was reaffirmed. It also reinforced an interest in continued engagement as neighbors, partners, and friends.

Unique challenges of small island states in the Caribbean

Small island states from the South Pacific to the Caribbean are witnessing rising sea levels. Rising sea levels have destroyed homes, highways, and other infrastructure. They have also caused major legal challenges for small island states.

These include putting their legal rights in danger and limiting their access to resources. As the population seeks higher land, this has created concerns about internal and external migration.

The coronavirus epidemic has had an economic impact on small island states as well. Tourist profits decreased as countries closed their borders and restricted travel.

Prior to the epidemic, tourism provided roughly 40% of Fiji’s GDP and employed over 150 000 people directly and indirectly. However, as a result of the pandemic, the economy fell by 19 percent in 2020.

Vanuatu’s tax revenue fell by nearly 19 percent from 2019 to 2020. Dominic’s economy declined by 10% in 2020 as a result of COVID-related shocks and a sharp drop in tourism.

The Caribbean island was still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017. When COVID struck, the damages were nearly 200 percent of GDP.

Therefore, continuous coordination between governments and organizations is required, with a focus on adaptation and resilience.

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