Stewarding Post-Hurricane Dorian Donor and Investment Funding Strategically

Screenshot 2019-10-20 at 18.04.06

Submitted by Joey Gaskins Jr, Senior Partner, Open Current

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, many Bahamians marveled at the sheer quantity and speed at which much-needed relief supplies and funding poured into the country. From the deployment of armed forces from countries with which we have close ties to the multi-million-dollar donations by established tourism brands, we thankfully witnessed a variety of support flow into our island nation.

In 2018, my partners and I created Open Current—a Bahamian research, public and government relations firm—and many of our clients quickly sprang into action in the aftermath of the storm.

Including cash and in-kind donations, supplies, and proposed long-term investment in reconstruction, our clients have offered over $25 million to the relief effort, and it became our responsibility to steward both these donations and proposed investments strategically.

With so many moving parts to the relief effort and with the volume of funding and supplies donated, donors, storm victims, and the public-at-large began asking: Where are these donations going? Do we have the capacity in government or civil society to adequately track and distribute these donations? And, who will hold agencies and organizations accountable for what happens with what was donated?

That these questions arose in our discussion of relief efforts signals a growing demand for transparency and accountability across the Bahamian socio-political landscape. More specifically, our clients wanted to know, “When we give supplies, funding, or even propose possible long-term investment, how can we have the greatest impact?”

Our firm has approached answering this question for our clients as a serious challenge. Our task has been finding solutions that protect donations and investments, while also leveraging both to provide the most dynamic support for those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

We worked to address this challenge in three ways.

First, deploying our research capabilities has been key to informing to whom and to what contributions should go. Clients who have well-developed philanthropic or corporate responsibility policies already knew how they wanted to target their giving, while others needed help deciding on where to focus.

As we considered the scope of the devastation in Abaco and Grand Bahama, our policy research identified the recovery efforts post-Hurricane Katrina as a unique case study from which to draw. The mistakes and successes of that recovery effort have been invaluable in guiding how we advise our clients to give and in the design of their initiatives.

We spent a substantial amount of time inquiring about the capabilities, capacity, and reporting practices of various agencies and organizations. As relief efforts have progressed, internal conflicts, the collapse of processes, and a lack of transparency have led to several knock-on effects that may have stifled recovery work in some areas.

It is crucial to preserve the goodwill that comes attached to donations, in particular, and this means guarding it against poor management, opacity, and detrimental internal organizational politics.

Given that Open Current has both quantitative and qualitative research capabilities, we have also used our call-center for polling, gauging public perceptions of what areas of the recovery effort are most important to support at this time. We are also using focus groups to inform their needs assessments.

It is nearly impossible to run accurate national polling after a storm of this magnitude because of the displacement of so many in Abaco and Grand Bahama. This displacement means that we cannot adequately randomize the polling sample or weight a sample of Bahamians to ensure that it is nationally representative. But we can still garner some insight into public opinion and perception.

Furthermore, the qualitative data from specific groups affected by the storm has provided a nuanced understanding of their needs.

Second, our relationships with government officials have proven to be mutually beneficial. In the wake of the Category 5 storm, the public servants that worked around the clock—in the machinery of government and on the ground—provided real-time information that allowed our clients to maneuver quickly and with accuracy to provide crucial aid. This aid helped those most affected by the storm but also supported the work of government agencies.

Finally, we consider our media partners in everything we do. The incredible investment Bahamian media has made in covering Hurricane Dorian, and the recounting of the stories of those most affected by Hurricane Dorian went beyond just money spent on travel and accommodation. Lives were on the line.

We turned to the journalists we work with most closely to give us their unvarnished perspective on what was happening where they were—at the heart of it.

All these elements of our work have come together to inform how we advised our clients immediately after Hurricane Dorian and how we are stewarding the resources they are providing for the long-term benefit.

In facing the horror that was the most powerful storm to ever hit the Northwest Bahamas, it is tempting to give donations in a hurry or to throw money and supplies at the crisis, hoping it will make it to the most vulnerable. However, this can lead to wastage, missed opportunities and ultimately the theft of resources from those who need it the most.

Instead, and especially as we dedicate ourselves to the long and arduous process of rebuilding Abaco and Grand Bahama, through thorough research, engagement with key government actors, and independent sources on the ground, we can ensure that donations and investments have the kind of impact that truly makes a difference.

In turn, we must all demand the highest standards of transparency and accountability from agencies and organizations who have received donations on behalf of the Bahamian people—to ensure the efficacy of the work supported by those donations and to protect the global goodwill from which we have and continue to benefit.

Joey Gaskins Jr. is a Bahamian and graduate of Ithaca College and the London School of Economics. He is a senior partner at Open Current—a Bahamian research, public and government relations firm delivering strategic consulting, communications, and public engagement advice that unleashes our clients’ potential for growth in influence, reputation, and revenue. To reach Joey email joey@ouropencurrent.com.

22 comments

  • Here in Barbados, we are experiencing a severe drought.

    Dorian brought us no rain and thankfully no wind.

    These are the figures taken from this web site as of today.

    http://www.barbadosweather.org/

    Rainfall Past 12Hrs (mm) : 0.0 at 6 pm
    Rainfall Month of October : 36.8
    Rainfall Current Year (mm) : 572.6
    Rainfall Previous Month (mm) : 84.5
    Rainfall Previous Year (mm) : 1146.4

    We are well into October 2019 and so far this weather station has only had half of the rainfall it had for 2018.

    This is extremely worrying.

    Hopefully the higher elevations got a good deal more but if they didn’t and the low rainfall keeps up we are in big, big trouble!!

    Here I am seeing the same, about half what we have for 2018.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I doubt we even had half this side of Barbados. Just enough to make the grass grow but little else. I was telling my son we are going to have rationing next year.

    Like

  • Got it already!!

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  • “In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, many Bahamians marveled at the sheer quantity and speed at which much-needed relief supplies and funding poured into the country. From the deployment of armed forces from countries with which we have”

    I maybe incorrect, but I was under the impression that the logistics of aid distribution was reported to have been a nightmare. Wasn’t there reports of looting, shootings and persons being beaten up ? The writer seems to have forgotten these salient facts, in a pitch to promote his organization and himself.

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  • @ Dr Robert Lucas.

    You see what de ole man means

    Imagine that here you have a topic whose focus is on the efficient and effective harmonisation of Aid and this is how one of the Barbados Underground pundits and big wigs starts it.

    “…Here in Barbados, we are experiencing a severe drought.

    Dorian brought us no rain and thankfully no wind.

    These are the figures taken from this web site as of today…”

    You understand why de ole man will hurl ad hominems at bloggers like these who, incapable of contributing anything to the main topic, move off on a waste foop tangent?

    Do you understand the seriousness of Aid Harmonisation in this critical matter of climate change and the annual disaster matrix that Small Island Developing States are being exposed to?

    Do you comprehend that, with the global economic challenges that developed countries are facing how this irresponsible abuse of these resources is effing up our chances of being able to draw down of Dusaster Mitigation Aid in the future?

    You understand why I would be inclined to let go some nasty cuss words @John the Quaker who often takes serious topics which focus on the well being of the black natives in erstwhile? Colonies and reduces it to rainfall statistics?

    You feeling me Dr Lucas?

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  • @Dr. Lucas

    You accept the logistics immediately after the disaster would have been a challenge?

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  • PTL … not to be confused with the other PTL

    The subject is Dorian and its impact.

    Aid vs rain!!!

    Same cause!!

    Things are tough all over!!

    Now if you had any sense you would have gone down the line that climate change is the cause of the lack of rain like as you say it is the cause of aid harmonization whatever that is!!

    However, the counter would have been there was plenty rain in Dorian, flooding in our neighbours.

    Sometimes I will throw a sprat in the hopes of catching a whale but unfortunately sometimes all that is around is another sprat!!

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  • Have the Bahamas approached the Clinton Foundation?

    I hear they are into giving aid to stricken Caribbean countries, like even Haiti!!

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  • @ David October 21, 2019 9:32 AM

    Noted, but the writer seeks to give the impression that nothing untoward occurred. Seems to me to be more taken up with his organization and himself.

    @ Piece the Legend October 21, 2019 6:53 AM

    You are correct. One should address the topic, not drift off on other points.

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  • @ Piece the Legend October 21, 2019 6:53 AM

    PIECE

    This reminds us the people never exist for the sake of the leaders, but leaders are there for the sake of the people. A leader should never serve THE PEOPLE dominated by the question, “What is in it for me?” When they do, they are like the cannibalistic leaders described by Micah.

    iN MICAH 3:4 WE SEE God’s judgment of silence against corrupt leaders.
    Then they will cry to the LORD, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds.

    a. Then they will cry to the LORD, but He will not hear them: This is one example of God’s judgment against the corrupt leaders. When they cry out for God’s help, He will remain silent.
    He will even hide His face from them at that time: One aspect of the blessing pronounced by the priests of Israel was asked the LORD to make His face shine upon you (Numbers 6:25). Here, Micah promises the opposite of this blessing – that God would even hide His face from them at that time.

    . “We must have the Holy Spirit, and if we have him not, all our machinery will stand still; or if it goes on, it will produce no effect whatever. I heard of a Christian man whose mill-wheel was noticed to be in motion on a certain Sunday. The people going to worship greatly wondered there at; but one who went by set their minds at rest by pointing out that the wheel was only turning idly round, because the water, by accident, was allowed to flow over it.

    This is very like our ministers of government and their lack of function

    There is no work being done, but the wheel goes round, clickety click, clickety click, though it is not grinding anything.’ Therein it also greatly resembles many an organization for service: the water is passing over it, glittering as it flows; but the outside motion does not join on to any human need, nor produce any practical result, and nothing comes of the click and hum.” MURDAH!

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  • @Dr. Lucas

    The Bahamas experience should teach us we need to design a contingency plan. This submission is a good food for thought.

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  • David
    October 21, 2019 3:52 PM

    @Dr. Lucas
    The Bahamas experience should teach us we need to design a contingency plan. This submission is a good food for thought.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Lemme see if I can put it simply!!

    Dorian is one of many systems that would normally bring rain to Barbados, recognized as a water scarce country,

    When we luck out (God is a Bajan) and avoid being hit we have an equivalent experience to the Bahamas which are prime targets for hurricanes which strengthen.

    Dorian was as bad for us as it was for the Bahamas for the simple reason it did not bring rain.

    True, no one was killed no buildings were damaged or destroyed, no flooding and no storm surge but we had no rain!!

    And it isn’t only that we were missed by Dorian, we have been missed by all so far.

    We get off where hurricanes are concerned most years but we lose out on the rain.

    That’s why we are a water scarce country.

    So what is the contingency plan for a water deficit for Barbados that looks as if it will be extremely bad next year?

    The Bahamas were hit one bad blow from which they will quickly recover.

    We will thirst for water … for ages.

    I just look at our situation objectively and try my best to translate my simple understanding of what I see into a form that others can understand.

    I can’t help it if they don’t …. or can’t … or worse won’t!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Put even more simply, brutal if you like!

    Dorian screwed the Bahamas and he screwed Barbados.

    The Bahamas will get a healthy baby with a future and we will develop syphilis!!

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  • What is the contingency plan for syphilis?

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  • @John

    What are you babbling about here?

    Liked by 1 person

  • John the Baptist has made and interesting point.

    What he has said it that, as per the premises of the article, we are quite willing to discuss theis submission about disaster mitigation rather harmonization IN THE CONTEXT OF FLOODING

    Yet, what has happened as the antipodean of experience, is that Barbados has been subjected to a drought AND THAT WHILE A SENSATIONAL CASE AND APPEAL is being made for The Bahamas, NONE IS BEING MADE FOR BARBADOS

    “…For in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty…”

    Ole fool that I am, I have but one choice but to apologize to this superior reasoning.

    Well championed John well championed.

    Soundly reasoned, without getting flustered.

    A rarity indeed

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  • @ the Honourable Blogmaster your assistance please with an apology for John (the usually “Culturally Controversial”)

    Liked by 1 person

  • When the tsunami hit in the Pacific yeah, we were interested but we didn’t spend much time looking at how aid flowed to the affected area.

    We went through a period we felt for sure there would be one washing up through the Careenage but it never happened.

    The Bahamas will be just fine until the next one.

    There will be the standard level of corruption ensuring much of the aid never gets where it is needed.

    We only need to understand what our problems and advantages are here in Barbados and act to suit.

    The Ross people figured out the challenges of a university in Dominica and did something about it.

    Grenada is probably better situated than are we but there will always be a probability of being hit and of course another medical school is there already.

    Apology accepted!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ John October 21, 2019 6:47 PM

    “There will be the standard level of corruption ensuring much of the aid never gets where it is needed.”

    Simply beautiful. Go to the head of the class.

    Like

  • October all over? What are the learnings for Barbados and the Caribbean to prepare for next time around?

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  • @ Walter.

    I have petitioned the reverent and you will go Tuesday and sit on the opposition bench to pose questions of relevance. I even got you a fancy title for the sitting you ready to hear it?

    CHIEF HONOURABLE ADVISOR TO THE ADVISORS WHO ADVISE THOSE THAT ADVISE ATTERLY!

    IF the title didn’t so big i would of get a few business cards do for you but the title too long and I brek. lol

    Life without laughter is pointless.

    Like

  • I have just seen a programme on Channel Four, Unreported World, which I am sure will be on You Tube quite soon. If it is not, then CBC should get broadcasting rights and show it to the people of Barbados. I would not discuss the content s, but it is rather interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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