The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is an international governmental organization formed in 1981 to enhance protection of legal and human rights, support of good governance between countries, and foster dependencies in the Eastern Caribbean states. In circumstances of natural disasters such as a hurricane, it takes liability and responsibility. As of 2011, OECS had nine members: Antigua, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Anguilla, Saint Lucia, Montserrat and Dominica. The formation and existence of OECS has been a good development path for the member states, though it has its share of setbacks.
A very significant feature of OECS is how it becomes accountable to the citizens of the member states. The OECS Authority governing body was put in place by the OECS member countries and is the highest decision making organ. The OECS Authority is made up of the heads of governments of the member states to encourage community participation and governance. It makes sure that member states have a chance to participate in the continued assessment of the OECS.
OECS integration maximizes benefits within the OECS territories. The OECS countries have unified trade policies which are included in the Regional Negotiating Machinery at Caribbean Community (CARRICOM) level. The OECS integration has developed a regional regulatory framework and a stable financial region to encourage cost sharing on regional projects, such as the joint supervision of the banking and the financial sectors. It has also realized gains on pooling of technical expertise and joint development of financial and capital markets of the member states.
The global economic turmoil has affected most poor countries including the small island developing states of the Caribbean. Following the perilous 2007 to 2009 global economic hurdles, the OECS has suffered from poor economic growth, averaging a mere 0.4 percent in 2010. Therefore, their dependence on tourism remittances, close economic ties, openness to universal trade and financial flows, which were once their strengths, have gradually become their weaknesses and worsened their vulnerability to transmission of the global crisis.
OECS member states are vulnerable to natural disasters. According to World Bank, as of 2010 OECS countries were among the most vulnerable countries in the world by number of disasters per population and per land area. Since 2008, the OECS's capacity to manage the increasing disasters has been thwarted by the limited resources, declining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows, tourism revenues and remittances in all OECS countries. Lack of organized structure and policies to curb the effects has dealt OECS countries a blow.
Zachariah Wavomba started writing professionally in 2007. His articles have appeared in publications such as "Saturday Nation" magazine and "The Standard." Wavomba holds a Master of Arts in international business from the University of Nairobi.