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Bahamas Environment Minister Ferreira Addressed 5th UN Global Geospatial Information Management Forum

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#Mexico, November 30, 2017 – Mexico City – Bahamas Minister of the Environment & Housing, the Hon. Romauld Ferreira under the theme, “Implementing The Sustainable Development Goals: The Role of Geospatial Technology And Innovation,” addressed the 5th High Level Forum on United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) at the Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel in Mexico City, November 28, 2017.

Minister Ferreira extended appreciation to the Ministerial segment of the UN-GGIM, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), and various UN Committees of experts for their leadership to foster greater dialogue concerning matters of mutual interest at Global and Regional levels.   He also thanked Dr. Julio A. Santaella and Mr. Stefan Schweinfest for inviting The Bahamas to speak on its experience regarding policy perspectives and the progress we are making nationally to strengthen our Geospatial Information Management Capacity and Spatial Data Infrastructure to support informed decision making.

“Mr. President, within the wider context of implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, The Bahamas continues to maintain relations with the United Nations through its participation in several UN Fora on a number of fronts including Gender Equality, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, Disaster Management, Resource Management (Land & Marine), as well as other programs stipulated in the Millennium Development Goals,” said Minister Ferreira.

“In 2014, The Bahamas enacted ‘The Bahamas Spatial Data Infrastructure Act’.   This is intended to strengthen the capacity of our technical arm, The Bahamas National Geographic Information Systems (BNGIS) Centre, to meet its national mandate to effect the practical and efficient use of geospatial technologies.”

Minister Ferreira added that it is the Bahamas Government’s intent to continue to build on our Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Program to support sound decision making in multiple sectors.   He emphasized the fact that BNGIS will require more resources to keep up with changing technologies and the Bahamian Government’s continued commitment to matters related to the UN-GGIM Secretariat and the UN-GGIM Americas Caribbean Project.

“Mr. President, The Bahamas’ application of this technology has been utilized in areas of national importance such as, but not limited to, Utility Management, Planning, and National Security.    Additionally, The Bahamas is using Geospatial Technology in our ongoing matters related to the United Nations Convention on the Law of The Sea (UNCLOS),” said Minister Ferreira.

“The integration of this technology has resulted in The Bahamas’ successful declaration of our Archipelagic Maritime Borders and our lodging, with the UN, a successful median line agreement with our Neighboring State, The Republic of Cuba.   Geospatial technologies will continue to play a vital role in our ongoing negotiations with the United States and eventually the Turks and Caicos, and Haiti.”

IMG-20171129-WA0002Minister Ferreira explained the benefits of applying Geospatial Technologies as tools for supporting decision making in The Bahamas, even though there’s still more work to be done to make the Spatial Data Infrastructure Program whole.  The  Bahamas Government acknowledges the importance of using this information for its national strategy toward the sustainability of the country’s natural resources.

“We have applied the technology in various sectors within the Government, albeit in an ad-hoc manner, resulting in isolated pockets of GIS, Duplication of Effort, Outdated Information with ‘No Standards’, and a lack of Procedures and Protocols for the sharing of information.   With the passage of The Bahamas Spatial Data Infrastructure (BSDI) Act 2014, and the establishment of the Bahamas Geospatial Advisory Council, we will coordinate such activities and develop the necessary standards, procedures, and protocols,” said Minister Ferreira.

“In general, the BDSI system and program articulated in the legislation, outlines Spatial Technologies, Policies, and institutional arrangements that facilitate the management, availability of, and access to ‘Spatial Data’.    We do, however, face significant challenges in deploying Geospatial Technologies to support informed decision making.”

Minister Ferreira explained to the UN panel that The Bahamas is a system of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), with some 17 inhabited islands, and 2,500 rocks and cays, stretching over some 100,000 square miles of ocean.   He said it presents numerous challenges in addressing environmental concerns, which include land, sea, air, and submarine issues, as well as the added hazard of climate change and disaster risk reduction and preparedness.

“Facilitating this work in a Spatial Environment is a ‘National Imperative’, in tandem with using a Geospatial Infrastructure to collect and disseminate data.   In the wake of extreme hurricane events that impacted The Bahamas — Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew, and Irma — we must place more emphasis in working to mitigate risk factors that may threaten our stability, including better Land Use Planning, to enable Government to use ‘Spatial Data’ to better understand and assess risks.  However, this is costly due to the geographical configuration of The Bahamas,” said Minister Ferreira.

“The Bahamas ‘Spatial Data’ Infrastructure is crucial, and we recognize that out-of-date, incomplete and inaccurate information must be improved, in order to allow for informed decision making, based on accurate and reliable data.   This will minimize risk in the management of our Environment, and improve our ability to meet citizen expectations, for a better way of life.”

Minister Ferreira categorized how effective SDI works, when considering Global and National requirements, combined to include Governance Reform, Institutional Strengthening of the BNGIS Centre, and Legislative Regulations to govern its operations.

“Introducing a comprehensive ‘National Plan of Action for Geospatial Information Implementation’ is required in order to enable a more strategic approach to disaster preparedness; integrated Land Use and Coastal Zone (Land and Marine) Planning and Management; and the Modernization of Public Administration Agencies.

“As stipulated in other fora, the most challenging question has been how we set a Global Agenda that enables collective international action, while delivering effective support to national efforts?   Having now initiated more focus participation in UN-GGIM initiatives, that question remains,” said Minister Ferreira.

To conclude his address to the body of Global GeoSpatial experts, Minister Ferreira informed them that The Bahamas’ membership in the UN-GGIM initiative is a true indicator of the Government’s commitment to the UN’s processes, and meeting the expectations of Bahamian citizens, when applying Geospatial Technologies to improve the Bahamian way of life, while meeting the country’s sustainable goals.

“We look forward to our continued participation, as the BNGIS Centre, as the Government’s Focal Point, and as the Technical Administrator of the the Bahamas Spatial Data Infrastructure system and programme, as expected,” said Minister Ferreira.

 

By: Gena Gibbs (BIS)

Photo caption:  Bahamas Minister of the Environment & Housing, the Hon. Romauld Ferreira delivers his address to the 5th High Level Forum on United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) at the Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel in Mexico City, November 28, 2017.

(BIS Photos/Gena Gibbs)

 

 

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Guys, Have 2 Minutes? Here’s How to Check Yourself for Testicular Cancer

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Testicular cancer is a rare form of cancer for men in The Bahamas.  It is highly curable — if you know it’s there!

 

November 30, 2021 – Men…how often do you perform a self-exam to check yourselves for testicular cancer?

While it’s a relatively rare form of cancer, young men aren’t exempt – in fact, testicular cancer occurs most often in young and middle-aged men. The good news is, it can usually be treated successfully.

The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump on your testicle. But that’s not the only sign of this disease.

Men who have testicular cancer may experience several different kinds of symptoms, says oncologist Timothy Gilligan, MD, a Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic who specializes in treating testicular cancer.

Testicular cancer most frequently strikes men younger than age 44, and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for men ages 15 to 34. It is almost always curable if found early, Dr. Gilligan says, and it is usually curable even when at a later stage. So it’s important to know signs and symptoms.

Here, Dr. Gilligan says, are five possible signs of testicular cancer you might not know about:

5 Testicular Cancer Symptoms That Aren’t a Lump  – Know what to look for and catch it early

  1. A feeling of heaviness or pressure in your scrotum.
  2. Change in testicle size or firmness.Certain types of testicular tumors can reduce testosterone or increase estrogen in the body, which can result in a change in testicle size or firmness.
  3. Swollen legs.When a tumor spreads to the lymph node, it can constrict blood flow in the veins and result in a blood clot. The clots often occur in the legs, which causes them to swell. You might even experience blood clot symptoms such as pain and difficulty breathing.
  4. Lower back pain and shortness of breath.These are symptoms of advanced testicular cancer, meaning the cancer has spread to lymph nodes behind your stomach. Shortness of breath also may signal that the cancer has spread to your lungs, which may make it harder for air to move in and out.
  5. Breast growth or tenderness.In rare cases, hormone changes also can cause breast tenderness or growth of breast tissue. Some tumors can secrete high levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), which stimulates breast development.

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor right away, Dr. Gilligan says. If your physician diagnoses you with epididymitis or orchitis and the symptoms do not resolve quickly with antibiotics, request an ultrasound to evaluate for a testicular tumor.

“While up to 95 percent of men with testicular cancer are cured, it’s important to get care quickly if you’re experiencing symptoms because testicular cancers usually grow fast,” Dr. Gilligan says. “If there is disease, the earlier it is treated, the greater than chance for success.”

 

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Signs of Recovery in East Grand Bahama Habitats Scarred by Hurricane Dorian

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#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – In the pinelands and mangroves that make East Grand Bahama so distinctly unique, nature is replenishing itself from the massive destruction of Hurricane Dorian. The restoration slowly taking shape is evidence that the death and devastation that the massive storm left behind is giving way to new life, according to biodiversity experts and scientists who recently conducted field assessments.

The biodiversity consultants with the Implementing Land, Water and Ecosystems Management (IWEco) in The Bahamas project have concluded a new phase of field surveys in East Grand Bahama. The team assessed pinelands and wetlands, collecting detailed information on the habitats and the life forms they support for a biodiversity inventory that will be published as part of the project.

“We have yet to see a standing pine tree that remains alive. In different types of pine habitats, however, you’re seeing different rates of recovery, with seedlings beginning to be established and these seedlings are typically anywhere from eight to 12 inches tall, and some we’ve seen are two to three feet tall,” Mark Daniels, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. said.

The biodiversity team spent more than a week conducting point counts, walking transects and vegetation plots to better understand the recovery process of pine and wetland areas in East Grand Bahama since Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

“The external fringes of those mangrove systems remain dead. However, in the more protected interior regions of these mangrove patches you are seeing mangroves returning and those creek systems where you have mangrove habitats that are inland and protected from the full force of the sea, are also recovering and looking very healthy,” Daniels said.

The biodiversity team also saw several species of wetland and forest birds as well as endemics like the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar as well as pine saplings that are growing in areas where the trees were dead. Information on the wildlife in East Grand Bahama will also be included in the biodiversity inventory that will be made public.

“We are seeing a lot more birds in the area but most of them are winter migrants from North America coming to The Bahamas and their presence increases our avian fauna by over 50 per cent,” said Scott Johnson, biodiversity consultant with BRON Ltd. “What’s also interesting is that some of the highest diversity of birds we are seeing is in patches of coppice areas in East Grand Bahama. These birds are occupying sites that have a variety of plant species that are producing flowers and some fruits so they have food resources.”

Although the Bahama Yellowthroat and Bahama Woodstar have been observed in the area, other pineland species of birds have not been seen since Hurricane Dorian in 2019, he added.

“I fear that they may have been extirpated from the East Grand Bahama area. Until that pineland ecosystem comes back which may allow for new immigration of birds in that area, chances are that we may not see Bahama Warblers, Olive-Capped Warblers, or Cuban Emeralds in that area for a while,” Johnson said.

The IWEco The Bahamas project is part of a larger, regional undertaking for the Caribbean funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). For The Bahamas, the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), the Forestry Unit, the Ministry of Public Works and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust are the leading partners.

The work that is being done towards creating a biodiversity inventory is pivotal as it will not only benefit the natural environment but involve citizens more closely in sustaining it. East Grand Bahama has a diverse ecosystem in its plant and animal life as well as its habitats. Investigating and gathering a record of all these life forms is a key part of developing the systems and driving the adaptation to make the environment stronger.

“The Biodiversity Inventory conducted under the IWEco project and its respective findings show significant signs of ecosystem regeneration, and therefore signs of hope as it relates to Hurricane Dorian recovery,” said IWEco The Bahamas National Project Coordinator Melissa Ingraham. “The inventory, amongst other project aspects, such as the development of an ecotourism sector and capacity building opportunities will be incorporated into a watershed management plan to sustainably guide resource use and management at a community based level.”

The project aims to develop and implement of integrated systems that support ecosystem health and strengthen national monitoring and evaluation systems. Other goals include policy, legislative and institutional reforms to increase capacity for sustainable natural resource management and deepening the knowledge that is key for effective stakeholder involvement.

 

Header: Gathering information for the biodiversity inventory from the pineland forest near West Gap Creek.

1st Insert: These dead mangroves at Ridge Creek are among the lingering signs of Hurricane Dorian’s trek across East Grand Bahama.

2nd insert: Members of the IWEco The Bahamas biodiversity team visit the mangroves at Ridge Creek where there are signs of recovery.

 

Press Release: IWECO

 

 

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MOSSUD to adopt ‘You are Somebody’ Programme in early 2022

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#TheBahamas, November 30, 2021 – Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe said his Ministry will adopt the “You are Somebody” Programme within the first quarter of the year 2022 as a means of ensuring that the community of persons with disabilities are included in all aspects of society.

Minister Wilchcombe was addressing the Church Service held (Sunday, November 28 at Living Waters Kingdom Ministries) to officially launch Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Week runs November 27 to December 4 under the theme: ‘Inclusion for All.’

Inclusion, Minister Wilchcombe said, has been more of a word, than an action.

“The Bible tells us that our gifts open doors,” Minister Wilchcombe told his inhouse and virtual audience. “The Bible didn’t say that you have to be able or living with a disability; the Bible says that all of us have gifts and that we should all utilize our gifts, and leadership must do what it can to lift those gifts and make them useful for communities, for societies, for our country.

“My purpose here today is to tell you that over the next several months, all of the things you thought were left, were gathering dust, will be lifted, will become part of the dialogue in this country and will become a part of the action taken by the Ministry responsible for Social Services and Urban Development (to ensure inclusion). I thank you. I appreciate you. You are somebody.”

Speaking formally for the very first time (outside of the House of Assembly) as Minister regarding one of the units that fall under his remit, Minister Wilchcombe told members of the community that the “You are Somebody” Programme (the name is adopted from the words of U.S Civil Rights icon, the Reverend Jesse Jackson) will help to address some of the many issues still facing the community of persons with disabilities in The Bahamas.

“I have a difficulty with the fact that so many of you, in general, feel marginalized; I have a difficulty because you are not to be considered separate and different in our communities; I have  a difficulty because inclusion has been more of a word than action, that there is still discrimination, that we have not done some of the things that we were supposed to do legislatively; that you still do not have transportation that you ought to have.

“We still have not created the Foundation that was intended to raise funding. The truth is we have not fulfilled the agenda, we have not done what we ought to have done, and so I have come to tell you that my Ministry will be adopting, in the first quarter of next year, a simple programme for the disabled and the programme will be titled –  and I borrow the words of Jesse Jackson – ‘You are Somebody’ and we will do all we must to ensure that you are included.”

Minister Wilchcombe said the Ministry will “lead by example.”

“I am going to ensure that at the Ministry itself, that we lead by example. Those who wish to discriminate and do not wish to provide jobs and employment, well I don’t see why you can’t be receptionists; I don’t see why you can’t be working throughout the Ministry; I don’t see why the Ministry cannot set the example and cause others to follow. And so, we shall lead. My purpose is to ensure that you have an appreciation that you are loved, and that you are appreciated,”

Minister Wilchcombe also shared the stories of his brother, Richard, whom he said is autistic, and his best friend, a female, who spent most of her life in a wheelchair.

“What I found most interesting about both is that they have never been excluded, always included, always individuals who were present with incredible capacity, talent – in fact my brother always teases me that he can do things I can’t,” Minister Wilchcombe added.

 

By Matt Maura

BIS

 

 Photo Captions: 

Header: Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe addressing Sunday’s Church Service that officially launched Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas. The Church Service was held at Living Waters Kindom Ministries. The Week runs November 27 – December 4.

1st insert: Bahamas Ambassador to CARICOM, Her Excellency Leslie Miller-Brice (third left), joined the community of persons with disabilities for Sunday’s Church Service launching Disability Awareness Week in The Bahamas.  Her Excellency is pictured with (from left): Mr. Kendrick Rolle, Disability Affairs Division; Miss Christina Fernander, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities; Mrs. Desire Clarke, Deputy Secretary, Secretariat, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (to Her Excellency’s left); Mrs. Annette Lunn, Sign Language Interpreter/Community of Persons who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing; Mr. Kelvin Lunn and Miss Tamera Lunn.

2nd insert: Mrs. Annette Lunn provides Sign Language Interpretation for the community of persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing during Sunday’s Church Service. Sign Language Interpreters help to bridge the communication gap for the community. Sign Languages are an extremely important communications tool for members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

 

 

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