Building effective resilience for human security in Caribbean countries

Challenges like crises, conflicts, natural disasters, poverty, epidemics and economic downturns undermine the prospects for peace, stability, and sustainable development of many people.

Article | 22 December 2020
Human security is an approach to assist states in identifying and addressing such widespread and crosscutting challenges to the survival, livelihood and dignity of their people. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly called for “people-centred, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people.”

The evident complementarity of the promotion of decent work and social justice to the human security approach aligns well with some of the ILO’s social finance projects that work for protecting vulnerable communities and jobs against weather and climate risks.

Timely access to funds is important to both governments and individuals in response to natural disasters and to recovery from any adverse event, especially in countries where weather plays a big role in the economy. After any such event, small business owners who depend on agriculture or on serving tourists, for example, are without customers for an extended period and in need of cash for day-to-day activities. The income shortfall, coupled with physical asset loss requires further money for repairs that increases the hardships. Farmers and small business owners (such as bakery shop owners, barbers and saloon operators and beekeepers) are particularly susceptible to these unfortunate outcomes.

For the last three years, the ILO is a key partner in the Climate Risk Adaptation and Insurance in the Caribbean (CRAIC) project, focused on extending climate-risk insurance to lower-income segments across the Caribbean. The Livelihood Protection Policy, one of CRAIC’s core products, is an index-insurance product designed to provide immediate funding to individuals’ accounts when rainfall or wind speed exceed pre-defined trigger levels. The ILO’s Impact Insurance Facility, alongside the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative (MCII) and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility SPC (CCRIF SPC) work together within CRAIC to offer this protection to all individuals regardless of their occupation.

We focus on building the capacity within the insurance partner organisations in each of the countries (Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago) and developing relevant processes. Integrating the insurance protection as a part of a broader community education programme, focused on risk management is another a key area for the ILO. We held several information and education sessions with communities during the high-risk “hurricane” period when individuals are acutely aware of weather-related risk to both the assets and the financial impact. Through these sessions, over 2,100 individuals and small business owners learnt about how parametric insurance can assist them in protecting against losses due to extreme weather conditions.

Leveraging the experience and the lessons learned through these activities, we are now working with the UN’s Multi-Country Office for the Caribbean for “Building Effective Resilience for Human Security in the Caribbean Countries – the Imperative of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in a Strengthened Sector” (referred to as the “HS project”). The HS project seeks to (i) ensure gender-responsive and disaster risk resilient services, programmes and techniques are available with the sectors of agriculture and fishery, (ii) make available gender responsive social protection, insurance and financial products, and (iii) increase market access readiness and resilience for small farmers and businesses, especially women. The focus countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia.

The ILO’s focus is primarily in two areas or pillars of decent work: one is around skills and capacity building; the other is around helping facilitate access to insurance and protection in the case of weather related disasters. The ILO will of course remain engaged to support other areas as needed.

For both areas, and very much in line with the human security approach and philosophy, the ILO engages with the other implementing agencies FAO, UN Women and UNDP. This is to ensure that we find the best means of synergizing efforts so that interventions and responses are the appropriate ones and we provide them in an integrated and holistic manner. Like that, the resources are not spread out too thin but they are leveraged to achieve impact.

In partnership with the next phase of CRAIC, the ILO will work on raising awareness around insurance and extending appropriate insurance products in the Caribbean to women, particularly in the agriculture sector.

In addition, the ILO will build local capacity in the countries to offer online gender-sensitive business management training to women using the “GET Ahead” training. We expect to provide this training in combination with small grants managed by FAO, targeting 2,500 small farmers and fisher folk under the project. The training will be complemented with information on the importance of insurance (particularly in countries prone to different types of disasters),as well as further information on where to obtain appropriate insurance products facilitated through HS and CRAIC local stakeholders and insurance providers.

- Written by Virginia Rose-Losada, Specialist in Sustainable Enterprise Development and Job Creation (ILO Office for the Caribbean).