The Dominica Red Cross Society (DRC) has taken measures to strengthen its logistical capacity to be better able to respond in times of disaster.
The Society recently conducted a logistic training in collaboration with the French Red Cross PIRAC, The European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO)and The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents (IFRC).
The training was part of the National Societies Logistic Capacities Enhancement Program for efficient Disaster Management in the Caribbean.
This project aims to strengthen Red Cross National Societies logistical capacities to better respond to the urgent needs as well as receiving and managing efficiently, external aid in case of a large scale disaster, by improving logistics management plans, increasing logistic human and material response capacities and improved monitoring and integration of the National Societies.
The one-week training in Dominica, held from the 23rd to the 27th of September, conducted. targeted representatives from each of The Dominica Red Cross eight branches as it is the plan of the National Society to establish warehouses for prepositioning of relief items in each branch. Also present at the training were representatives of Dominica Red Cross local partners, The Local Government, the Office of Disaster Management and the Ministry of Health.
Participants were taught the procedures of warehouse logistics and the use of the relevant forms that should be used in the receipt and distribution of goods. The training was co-facilitated by Dominica Red Cross Logistics and Warehouse staff. A logistics software will be developed and shared with the Red Cross partners which will aid in the coordination of relief distribution on the island.
The Dominica Red Cross has expressed its appreciation to ECHO and PIRAC for their support in strengthening the DRC capacity to respond to any disaster on Island.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in 2016.
Historical notes from a London archive detail a vivid picture of how a people’s rebellion to prevent taxes by the British Colonial Government manifested itself in a poor village on the rugged windward coast of Dominica.
On April 13th, 1893, La Plaine was the scene of the land tax riots when heavily armed British marines and Dominican-based policemen from Antigua landed at Plaisance Bay in Laronde from the Torpedo cruiser warship HMS Mohawk and attempted to evict persons who had not paid their taxes. As peasants from one of the poorest districts, they started an emotional protest to prevent the exorbitant, unfair and illegal land tax. At that time Dominica was part of the Leeward group of island colonies.
The Colonial Governor, Sir W. Hayes Smith, decided to make an example of community leader Mr. Pierre Colaire in an attempt to quell the rising tide of dissent all over Dominica regarding the new tax. The Governor deployed twenty five (25) Royal marines and nine (9) policemen under the Command of Edward Henry Bayley of the British Royal Navy to Case O’ Gowrie.
Commander Bayley and his men evicted Colaire and his large family from their small wooden house in Case O’ Gowrie at the edge of Quanarie estate (the current site of the Agricultural station) where the rolling hills meet Morne Governear. They boarded and nailed shut the windows and doors of Colaire’s small house. After the troops retreated back to their barracks in Roseau, Colaire reentered his house ignoring the real threat of arrest and imprisonment. When word of Colaire’s defiant action reached the colonial authorities in the capital, Smith sent Bayley back to La Plaine to arrest Colaire.
Upon entering the village, Bayley went first to the local French priest, ‘Pere’ Coutrier, at the Catholic Presbytery to inquire about the whereabouts of Colaire. The priest knew of Colaire’s whereabouts but did not volunteer any information. Meanwhile, the appearance of a modern day warship in the bay, where fishing boats were docked, caused quite an unwelcome and unsettling stir in the community. They felt that almost certainly meant that they were under attack.
The villagers blew conch shells to summon other villagers and soon a large crowd gathered at the presbytery. It was rumored that Colaire was among them. The historical notes detail the complaints the priest spelled out to Commander Bayley in sympathy with the peasants about the unfair and exorbitant land taxes which were levied on them but Bailey would have none of it. His strict orders and mission were to find and arrest Colaire and make an example of him.
My grandfather Mr. Burton Allan who was the Village’s Oral Historian told me that his father, Mr. Serrant Allan was a member of ‘Pere’ Coutrier unsuccessful ‘negotiating team’ that met with Bayley. After all, peasants from a poor, backward, rural outpost had challenged the British Crown and the vast and powerful British Empire. How could that have happened? Indeed, how could this act of defiance by peasant subjects to the imperialistic notion of “Rule Britannia” be tolerated?
Commander Bayley and his contingent then marched onto Case O’ Gowrie, crossing the Sari-Sari River amidst a growing and angry crowd. Reports indicated that the mob included villagers from the surrounding communities of Boetica, Delicies, Morne Juane and Riviere Cyrique who came to join in solidarity with Colaire and La Plaine folks. Tensions were mounting on both sides as the large crowd which was increasing in confidence jeered and taunted the troops as they marched to Colaire’s house.
Upon their arrival at Case O’ Gowrie, Colaire was a few steps ahead of Bayley and he slipped away into hiding under the thick canopy of the mountains and jungle. Unable and frustrated at not being able to nab his man, Bayley commenced with the eviction of Mrs. Colaire and her children from their home once again.
At this point, all hell broke loose in the La Plaine highlands. Colaire’s friend, Mr. St. Ville, a peasant from Boetica, stepped in front of the advancing troop line with a ‘pichet’ (pointed stick) swinging to prevent the eviction. The crowd joined in and started pelting stones at the force. As expected, the marines opened fire and when the smoke cleared, four (4) La Plaine peasants lay dead and several were injured on both sides including Bayley.
The remaining villagers escaped and melted into the surrounding hills and nearby forests. The troops left with Mr. St. Ville under arrest. History does not record St. Ville’s ultimate fate but one can only speculate whether his final resting place is on the ocean floor of the southern Atlantic.
Later that year, the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies dispatched Sir Robert Hamilton to Dominica from London to conduct a full and independent inquiry into the circumstances and conditions that occurred at La Plaine and also into the present system of administration in the West Indies. The official results of the inquiry which were published in 1894 resulted in the changing of the manner in which the Colonial government imposed and collected taxes in the colonies. It also resulted in the punishment of some of the officers involved. British Crown colony rule and governance was seriously affected and ridiculed.
Governor Smith won the tragic day in the La Plaine highlands but our forefathers won the ‘war’ and restored their dignity and hope however painful and tragic it was. But today we stand on the giant shoulders of Mr. Pierre Colaire and our determined bare-footed and shirtless peasant forbearers who were humiliated and ‘cut-down’ while defending their impoverished but proud community with honor, dignity and purpose.
They have left us and the generations that have followed with a very rich legacy of pride and a strong sense of destiny, duty and identity.
The UWI commends Antigua & Barbuda’s investment in the OECS
10 hours ago
November 13, 2019
60 to receive scholarships to The UWI Five Islands Campus
The University of the West Indies (The UWI) applauds the Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s decision to offer 60 scholarships to students at The UWI’s new Five Islands Campus in Antigua.
According to a recent Cabinet statement, students from across six Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) countries—Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat—will qualify for tuition scholarships.
Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles commenting on the announcement said, “The decision by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to offer scholarships to students from sister OECS states demands very high commendation. The Five Islands Campus was established to provide an additional sustainable higher education development platform for the OECS, and when governments make decisions in the interest of the region, it demonstrates an enlightened understanding of the partnerships and investments required to drive regional development.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal at The UWI Five Islands, Professor Stafford Griffith said, “We are currently at 180 students actively enrolled in programmes at Five Islands. With a second round of recruitment to open soon, we expect that we will hit our target of 400 registered students by January 2020. The scholarships offered by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda will certainly go a long way to helping us attain this goal. At The UWI, we are doing our part to develop the OECS and we welcome the continued and tangible support of the regional governments.”
Applications for January 2020 admission to The UWI Five Islands Campus opened on November 11, 2019. Available programmes include Bachelor degrees in Nursing, Psychology, Education and the Social Sciences; as well as Certificate programmes in Human Resource Management, and Tourism and Hospitality Management.
For more information, visit www.uwi.edu/fiveislands
COMMENTARY: A regrettable and shameful situation: general elections without electoral reform
14 hours ago
November 13, 2019
The Electoral Reform Effort Group, which comprises of Church, Business, Trade Unions and Civil Society leaders, notes with deep sadness, disappointment and regret the Prime Minister’s calling of General Election on 6th December 2019 without any tangible movement towards electoral reform. It is rather regrettable, and even indefensible, that as a nation we were unable to realise two (2) basic
and achievable aspects of electoral reform, namely:
to realise a sanitised list of eligible voters, and
to have each eligible elector identified with a valid identification card (ID).
This situation reflects a certain aspect of national and administrative irresponsibility when one considers that the current method available to enable the Chief Elections Officer to ensure that an elector does not vote more than once in the same general election is indelible ink. It is well known that indelible ink is no longer a fool-proof method of achieving the goal of ensuring that electors are prevented from voting more than once in the same election.
The Electoral Commission, at least since 4 June 2018, Special Joint Mission of CARICOM, the Commonwealth and the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Group all accepted that the recommended method for cleansing the electors lists is the House to House Re-verification exercise, which could be completed in 6-8 weeks.It is also recognised that the completion of the re-verification exercise is a necessary undertaking which must precede the production and issuing of identification cards.”
The calling of elections and dissolving parliament immediately gave the Electoral Commission no additional time to pursue any of the necessary measures, albeit it may have been tardy in starting to do so. It fact, there was the announcement that parliament would have convened on the 18th November 2019, which gave some hope to the general public that parliament would then be presented for enactment, a simplified, focused and appropriate amendment that will adequately empower the Chief Elections Officer to issue, and require to be used in any election, the necessary voter identification cards.
The Group is therefore heavily disappointed and saddened that the Prime Minister did not exhibit the moral responsibility required of him at this point, by further delaying the calling of the general election and doing all that he could to avoid the country going into another election without electoral reform even as he claimed that the government had given the Electoral Commission adequate financing to enable it. Notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s statement on 31st October 20194, that the government has made available to the Electoral Commission $6.0 M towards electoral reform, the failure to achieve this reform still resides within both his control and that of the Electoral Commission as:
The Electoral Commission, having acknowledged that it had the resources needed to carry out the reforms, failed to commence such reforms, including commencing the re-verification exercise it championed in June 2018, and passing regulations to allow it to issue and use identification cards during the upcoming general elections,
The failure of the Prime Minister to provide the opportunity for the convening of parliament to modify the requirements for issue and use of voter identification cards beyond what could be achieved by regulations made by the Electoral Commission, and
The failure of the Prime Minister to provide the Electoral Commission with further time for undertaking these reforms as the constitutional deadline for holding general elections is still some six (6) months away.
It is noted that by a press release, the Chief Elections Officer had given 19th November 2019 for the submission of Claims and Objections to the preliminary electors lists. The Group is very concerned that the calling of the general elections on the 6th December 2019 has the potential of constraining the Chief Electoral Officer’s ability to deal with corrections, objections and claims while preparing for a general election within 6 days after the final lists of electors are to be produced.
The Group notes the large, peaceful demonstrations by citizens over the last few weeks demanding electoral reform. Given that our objective of Wednesday 31st January 2019 of “finding ways for Dominica to achieve the necessary electoral reform before the next general election” has not yet been achieved, albeit not for lack of effort, it would be very sad if what drove the Group’s pursuit should become a reality. The Group continues to hope that the public will perceive that whoever wins the upcoming general elections would have done so fairly and the people will go back to working and building the country.
Nonetheless, the Group continues the call to every and all citizens to renew their commitment to collaborate in resolving Dominica’s electoral challenges, including instituting legal action to guide the process of reform, as all else has failed, in order to ensure that the Electoral Commission undertakes the necessary reform before the next general election. The Group continue to request citizens to continue to pray and work for peace and do all in each one’s locality and influence to avert the occurrence of civil disturbances in the wake of the general election. Our country deserves our peaceful collaborative effort even more at this time.
The Group urges citizens to engage in this franchise of voting with well-formed consciences, avoiding being victims to bribery and other illicit practices that would corrupt the electoral process, and to pay attention to and comply with the electoral laws. The Group endorses the Dominica Christian Council’s (DCC’s) code of conduct. Further, the Group urges all voters to carry passports, drivers’ licences and social security cards with which they are to identify themselves properly before voting. In addition, the Group urges the political parties to encourage their supporters to do so, and party agents at polls to request means of identification of potential voters. The Group further urges those without ID’s to take along one or two persons with ID’s to identify them. Voters have the power to institute some reforms.
Finally, going forward, the Group urges, that the full scope of electoral reform, inclusive of campaign financing, access to State media and constituency boundary redistribution, should be undertaken well within the first year after the general election. These reforms ought also to set boundaries on the calling of general elections being cognisant of the time stipulated for corrections of primary electors lists and the submission of claims and objections before the final lists are presented. This reform ought to include the Constitutional provisions respecting the composition, financing, independence and powers of the Electoral Commission. It may well be that the country may have to review its entire constitution.
The Group will continue to advocate for the continued strengthening of all our democratic institutions and processes.
We pray that God continues to bless the Commonwealth of Dominica.
Anthony E. Le Blanc
Electoral Reform Effort Group, 11th November 2019.
https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/general/electoral-commission-to-go-on-voter-verification-exercise – Dominica News Online, 4th June 2018, Electoral Commission to go on Voter Verification Exercise – Press release
The report of the Special Joint Mission of CARICOM, the Commonwealth and the Organization of American States (OAS) of 17th September 2019
Report of the Joint CARICOM, Commonwealth, OAS Special Mission to Dominica, 17th September 2019. Page 11.
https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/preliminary-electors-list-available-in-polling-districts-across-the-country/ – Dominica News Online, 17thOctober 2019, Preliminary electors list available in polling districts across the country – Press release