On March 14, 2020, St. Maarten closed its borders, due to the effects of COVID-19 and a partial restriction was announced. With the island still bearing the effects of the pandemic such as business closures, the economy has drastically declined and it is further projected to have continued adverse effects on the major economic pillar, tourism.
The government of St. Maarten has, for the short-term, initiated food boxes for persons in need. Due to the overwhelming need for sustenance, lack of capacity and limited resources, a more sustainable plan is warranted to support vulnerable groups. With food demand being generally larger than supply in times of a disaster, the actual challenge lies in logistics development in the food aid supply chain network. This further ties into having a robust agriculture policy to fuel food supply in St. Maarten, in a consistent manner.
Given the issues with food security, exposure to natural disasters, and economic fallout, the department of The Interior and Kingdom Relations (BAK) under the Leadership of the Minister of General Affairs, who is also responsible for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and disaster management has requested technical assistance from the UNDP for the development of a National Food Bank (NFB). Such a food bank will ensure a reliable and robust food supply chain to vulnerable groups as well as support Emergency Support Function 7, in providing mass care to vulnerable groups.
The purpose of the assignment is:
- Conduct a feasibility assessment and analysis on programmes, gaps, priorities and risks related to food security in St. Maarten.
- Develop a framework/action plan for establishing a National Food Bank.
- Work with the St. Maarten government to develop a proposal for the National Food Bank Supply chain system which will include governance, structure, and policies.
- Develop and recommend a sourcing, procurement and logistic system for the National Food Bank.
- Develop a process map for the supply chain.
- Work with the government to develop tools that would contribute to a database to understand the needs of vulnerable groups that benefit from this project.
- Work with the government to develop a road map for a national policy on agriculture.
The Technical Assistance has started and the necessary contact is being made with internal and external parties that play a role in the food chain supply. The public is advised to stay tuned to further developments of this project as it works towards securing SDG 1: No poverty, SDG 2: Zero hunger, SDG 13: Climate action SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals.