By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 6, 2022 – ‘Everyday unless it rains’ is how often Norman Rogers walks along the roadways of Providenciales, often he wears a shirt with large red letters that any passerby will be able to read. It says “One Man Can Make A Difference.” It’s the same shirt that Norm wears proudly, turning to show the camera over Zoom during our interview. It’s a gift, he explains, from a young man he has deeply inspired with his daily routine, because Norm isn’t just walking, he’s cleaning up the Turks and Caicos.
Norman and his wife first visited the islands in 2002, fell in love with the turquoise water and moved here shortly after, but it wasn’t until his heart attack in 2003 that Norm, an avid birdwatcher, decided to start walking along one of the TCIs uninhabited islands in the mornings and to get his body moving. That’s when he noticed something.
“The litter on the island was getting in the way of the birds.” he explained “And so I started carrying around a garbage bag whenever I started to go out there to take photos of the birds.”
That was the start of what has become a legacy of environmentalism on the islands. Norm has been picking up litter on a regular schedule for the last 16 years, but in 2020 with the advent of quarantines and lockdowns amidst the Coronavirus pandemic he set out walking further and further in either direction of his home each day and didn’t like what he was seeing; he knew he had to expand, and now his current routes are simply incredible. They are organized so as to cover as much ground as he can.
“I’ve got 17 different sections that I clean up and some of them get done every two weeks, some every three weeks and some every four weeks.”
In the four weeks since he has been working a fairly new route in the direction of Governor’s road he has managed to haul in an astonishing 85 bags of trash. Even more surprising is that he has not done this route every day, since he maintains his original routes as well.
“I go out every day from 7:15 to about 9:30 the only days I don’t go out are when it’s raining or occasionally I take a day off,” he explained, “In life I’ve been told that one person can’t make a difference and I thought that I could.”
His total bags each day on this new route range between four and seven but he says this is only because no one has cleaned this area up in a while. Norman says the trick is getting Islanders to maintain the clean. That’s where Jeffrey Nicolas comes in.
The other half of this environmentalist duo Jeffery met Norm at the gym and was so inspired by the older man’s tenacity that he started organizing larger cleanups on his own. And with the help of the Rotaract Club, Jeffery has organized tens of islanders to do their part in cleaning up and he also advocates for recycling with large hotels and locals, holding talks with the Hotel Association to see how the littering issue can be resolved. He maintained that recycling was both beneficial to the environment and to hoteliers.
“We’re Beautiful by Nature we have to keep in Clean by Choice” he said seriously. Norm added his own spin “We wanna keep it beautiful by nature but not desecrated by man.”
The men both agree that the most sustainable way to rid the Turks and Caicos of litter is to start working at the source.
Norman explained, “We would like to promote not littering to begin with, the government is doing a good job of cleaning up some areas but at the same time there’s things that we need to do to help ourselves. To me it starts with Education, we need to teach the kids in school…start with the young.”
Jeffrey added, “We need to start to conditioning the minds of the people, I think all of us love Turks and Caicos we’re just not aware of the problem because a lot of the time we’re not looking on the side of the road until it becomes like a little dump.”
Jeffery explains that not only do Islanders need to be educated on the issue more preventative infrastructure like bins on the highway needs to be put into place.
“You’re driving and you throw a bottle out the window because you have nowhere to put it thinking it’s just one bottle but it adds up. I’ve done cleanups in Blue Hill and Five Cays, where in one day we get up to 50 bags”
For those who don’t know where to start the men say spend five or ten minutes cleaning up the area in front of your home, food businesses cleaning up their trash would also be a good start they say especially since a great deal of the trash they recover are food containers which eventually make their way into the oceans.
The biggest takeaway from duo is that one man, maybe two CAN make a difference.
You can make a different on your yard on your street, in your community and on your island; it only takes starting.
Hurricane Nicole – A symbol of climate injustice
By Deandre Williamson
Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellow
#TheBahamas, November 29, 2022 – With the trauma of Hurricane Dorian still lingering, Abaco and Grand Bahama residents braced for Hurricane Nicole as they experienced another unfair blow of climate injustice.
As sea levels rose, triggering storm surges and flooding, the northwestern islands of The Bahamas were placed under hurricane watch. For many, this signaled that the fight for climate justice must continue.
Some residents on those islands evacuated their homes and fled to shelters hours before Nicole made landfall in The Bahamas on Nov. 9 as a tropical storm and strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 75 miles per hour.
“The wind was manageable. It wasn’t as bad as we thought. In our area we got maybe a limb or so that blew down. The power was out for a while, but thank God, we made it through it,” Abaco resident Mark Anthony Swain said.
Although the impact of Hurricane Nicole was minimal when compared to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, climate change is the underlying cause of the intensity and frequency of hurricanes in recent years.
When Nicole exited The Bahamas, the “all clear” was given, but the country isn’t clear from future hurricanes and the devastating effects of climate change.
However, it’s clear that The Bahamas and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) need climate justice because they are hit hardest by the impact of climate change, are the least responsible and together bear next to no responsibility for the climate crisis.
While the Government of The Bahamas is fighting for climate justice, residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama are calling for more to be done to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Swain, who also experienced Hurricane Dorian, said the countries that are major contributors of carbon emissions in the atmosphere should do more to assist smaller countries in fighting climate change, so when hurricanes and other natural disasters occur, the smaller countries will be able to maintain themselves.
“I think these other countries that are contributing to the climate challenge that we are facing should be held responsible and accountable in that regard,” Swain added.
China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan are the top five countries with the highest carbon emissions in the world.
Grand Bahama resident Randy Deleveaux, who was on the island during Hurricane Nicole, agrees that more should be done concerning the climate crisis because The Bahamas is in a hurricane zone based on its geographical location.
“We know that every year rain, sun or shine, it appears as if we are going to have a hurricane, whether it’s a major one or not a major one,” Deleveaux said. “As a matter of fact, even though the ones we consider not major, we still have to take more necessary precautions because Dorian taught us we can’t take nothing for granted.”
Deleveaux suggested that the government should ensure that every household is equipped with storm shutters, floatation devices and life jackets.
“There are so many things that the government can do and persons can do in relation to hurricanes because we always have to prepare,” he added.
“Every time we have a hurricane coming, persons have to run and scrap for plywood to put on their windows. We need to move from that and be able to properly prepare.
“Look at our coastal erosion and stuff like that because of the hurricanes. I remember one time you could go on the beaches and see sand, now some of these beaches don’t have no sand like that because of hurricanes and we’re not even looking at the impact that is having on our coastal and marine life. We don’t replace the sand. There is so much things we can do.”
Loss and Damage
But no matter how large or small a hurricane measures on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, there is always loss and damage associated with a storm.
According to Prime Minister of The Bahamas Philip Davis, during the Caribbean Regional Heads of Government Meeting in Preparation for COP27, more than 50 percent of The Bahamas’ outstanding debt can be linked to the impacts of the hurricanes between 2015 and 2019.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in its damage and loss assessments (DaLA) synthesis, noted that The Bahamas has lost more than $4.2 billion over the past seven years as a result of Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew, Irma and Dorian.
Abaco and Grand Bahama are still rebuilding from Hurricane Dorian and, although minimal, the damages from Hurricane Nicole are being assessed.
Prime Minister Davis was in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt attending COP27 when Hurricane Nicole passed through the northwestern Bahamas. At COP27, he called on world leaders to get real about ensuring that loss and damage are compensated for.
“We do not have a significant carbon footprint in the world. Yes, we do have a significant carbon sink in the world. But yet still, after this hurricane has passed, who’s going to have to pay for the recovery, reconstruction and for normalizing the lives of my people?” Davis said in a video interview.
Climate justice fights for solutions to the climate crisis that would result in reduced emissions and industrialized rich nations sharing the burden of the crisis by helping SIDS handle the severe effects of climate change.
Swain lost his home during Hurricane Dorian and there are others who also lost their homes and some are still living in trailers in Abaco.
Without insurance, Swain is rebuilding his home, but the progress is slow.
He explained that the Disaster Reconstruction Authority and other NGOs promised to help him, but they haven’t delivered on their promises as yet.
“We will, out of pocket, try to do some things to get us along,” Swain said.
Hurricane Dorian caused a housing shortage in Abaco and the demand for a home is great.
According to Swain, because of the demand and desperation to find a home, the rent in Abaco is skyrocketing.
“You can find the average apartment, two bedroom, going for no less than $1,500. In some instances it’s over $2,000,” he said.
After negotiations and hearing the pleas of Small Island Developing States, COP27 closed with the announcement of a loss and damage fund to compensate countries impacted by climate change. This is a huge step in the fight for climate justice.
This story was published with the support of Climate Tracker’s Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.
Member, The Bahamas Press Club 2014
Caption: Flooding in Abaco caused by Hurricane Nicole. (Photo/Abaco resident)
Police Academy Commissioner Shot Dead in Haiti
By Sherrica Thompson
Reports from the police are that Harington was shot dead on the grounds of the police training facility in a gang-controlled neighbourhood in the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince on Friday, November 25.
The spokesperson for the National Police of Haiti (PNH), Inspector Garry Desrosiers, in confirming Friday’s killing, said the commissioner was “shot in the head not far from the Academy” and the attackers “stole his [Harington’s] vehicle and kidnapped his driver.”
Harington’s killing is the latest in several attacks against law enforcement in Haiti. The killing also happened at a time when international leaders are trying to help Haiti’s political leaders control the surge in gang violence in the country.
The police have not released any information on who might be responsible for the commissioner’s death.
St Kitts and Nevis Welcomed the World’s Largest Cruise Ship
By Sherrica Thompson
#StKittsandNevis, November 29, 2022 – The twin island of St Kitts and Nevis is about to chart its busiest cruise seasons yet as the world’s largest cruise ship, the Wonder of the Seas, made its inaugural call to Port Zante in the country on Thursday, November 24.
About 6,495 guests arrived on the ship, with 2,259 crew members on board.
The oasis class ship was welcomed by Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew, who led a delegation on board last Thursday to host a brief plaque exchange ceremony.
“You have confidence in the destination by adding St Kitts and Nevis to your now largest vessel, the Wonder of the Seas, with a passenger capacity of 6,988,” the Prime Minister said.
The Chief Executive Officer at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Mr. Ellison Thompson, said the ship’s visit was a result of the country’s comprehensive negotiations with stakeholders.
“The destination’s ability to secure a vessel with a 6,495-passenger capacity today, November 24, is the result of comprehensive negotiations between the Ministry, the Authority, and cruise lines. As a result, we are gradually seeing the fruits of our marketing and strategic efforts, and we take pride in celebrating such a momentous occasion,” Thompson said.
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