St Vincent and the Grenadines - The Combined response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the La Soufriere eruption

We are a resilient people; we are strong” this statement was made more times than one could count during our visit to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

For clarity, imagine this ... You are in the safety and comfort of your own home in a state of peace. Two days later a global deadly virus is announced, and everyone is at risk. This virus has already killed hundreds of thousands. You are now confined to the safety of your house. You manage to navigate the deadly virus but alas here comes another one, this time mosquito borne, threatening your existence.  AND……Just when you thought it could not get any worse, the volcano on your island decides to WAKE UP!

This is not a script from a disaster movie, it is the story of St. Vincent and the Grenadines told in real time. The onslaught of COVID-19 in 2020, a deadly dengue outbreak from July to December during the same year and the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano on April 9th 2021.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is located in the southeast Winward islands of the Lesser Antilles.  The volcanic island is 151 square miles and has a population close to 104,000. St. Vincent is the main island while thirty-two small islands make up the Grenadines inclusive of Bequia, Union Island and Mustique.

The triple effect of COVID-19, an ongoing dengue outbreak and the La Soufriere volcanic eruption in 2020 and 2021 exposed the strength and fortitude of the Vincentian people and its administration. The combined effort of the government authorities, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and agencies such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) puts a distinctive spotlight on the goodness of humanity.