CARBICA, the Caribbean Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives

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CARBICA, through CARTAS is developing a broad-based hazard mitigation and response strategy for the protection of records and archives in the region.

Created in 2004, the first intervention was carried out in Grenada following Hurricane Ivan. That exercise revealed a critical state of records and archives in the recovery and reconstruction process. Cross-sectoral links, which are important for risk reduction, were also found to be weak. Under normal circumstances, records and archives services are not perceived as prime assets for survival, and in disaster situations records and archives are understandably put on the back-burner. Therefore, it is prudent to have in place alliances that will extend human resources and skills across sectors, thus positioning national archives and allied cultural institutions squarely among the disaster management community.

Traditionally focused on minimising loss of life and property, disaster management initiatives overlook the importance of vital records and archives in national and regional rebuilding efforts. It needs to be borne in mind that governance structures as well as the civil memory of Caribbean nations are just as threatened by identifiable risks. Therefore the need for re-dress is urgent to both reduce the risk to, and loss of records and archives, and to provide adequately for future rehabilitation services.

The CARTAS objectives are concerned with building infrastructures for rapid post-disaster assessments, and developing a risk and vulnerability assessment component to the model, which when applied, will reduce risk through knowledge-based action. International studies since 2004 in the areas of risk, disaster preparedness, and climate and security, all confirm and support the relevance of CARTAS. Moreover, they show the damning gap in research and modelling in risk assessment and disaster preparedness with regard to records and archives.

The need for cross-sectoral partnerships in disaster preparedness and mitigation remains crucial given the forecast of increased frequency and severity of climate related hazards, especially hurricanes and its potential impact on record-keeping systems and governance structures.

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