St Vincent and the Grenadines is one of five Caribbean countries to benefit from US$2 million each in equipment to aid in the battle against the Sargassum seaweed.
This was made possible under a US$12 million three-year grant-aid project entitled: The Project for Improving National Sargassum Management Capacities in the Caribbean. It is being funded by the Government of Japan and executed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The signing of the official Exchange of Notes between Japan and the UNDP for the partnership took place at UN House, Barbados on Friday.
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Barbados, Teruhiko Shinada, outlined that the equipment would include an aquatic conveyor belt, workboats or barges, machine surface beach rakes, walk behind beach surface rakes, lightweight tractors, dump trucks, and float booms and barriers.
And, while the equipment is set to cost US$2 million per country, the project will also see Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia benefitting from a transfer of expertise and technical building knowledge to collect, remove, transport and dispose of the algae in a sustainable way.
It will also explore scientific monitoring technologies, such as UAS drones and Geographical Information Systems, which are spatial mapping tools to evaluate the quantum of Sargassum influx.
Ambassador Teruhiko said Japan understood the challenges caused by the Sargassum seaweed and recognised the importance of such a partnership.
Resident Representative with the UNDP for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Valerie Cliff, stated that the project aimed to support national capacity for the removal and disposal of the seaweed in each of the five countries.
Ms. Cliff explained that it was also designed to build coastal resilience and mitigate the negative impacts on the economic sensitive areas like fisheries, public health and tourism in the recipient countries.
Ernesto is a senior journalist with the St. Vincent Times. Having worked in the media for 16 years, he focuses on local and international issues. He has written for the New York Times and reported for the BBC during the La Soufriere eruptions of 2021.