Asue and how it can be a solution

EDITOR, The Tribune.

THE much anticipated (or dreaded for lack of a better word) Atlantic Hurricane season of 2024 is finally here. And the dread is certainly justified, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a very active season, with at least 20-25 identified storms. The projected propensity of Hurricane Season 2024 has been interlinked with climate change, specifically increasing sea temperatures.

As Hurricane Season 2024 begins, the pressing need for robust climate adaptation and mitigation strategies is more urgent. In particular, discussions surrounding “climate finance” – the accumulation of financial resources to support these strategies have become a focal point for climate policymaking.

This focal point shined through at the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) and was enshrined as a goal in the finalised commitment “A Renewed Declaration for Resilient Prosperity”. While attention has traditionally been given to Western-centric distribution channels as avenues for climate financing, another avenue ought to be considered – asue.

An asue is a communal savings scheme among a group of people that originated in Africa. Within an asue, persons would regularly contribute a defined financial contribution (hand) into a collective pool. The asue would then rotate, allowing each person to receive the defined financial contribution back (draw) at a specific time.

Thousands of Bahamians, including myself, have entered asues to obtain much-needed financial support and are recognised by commercial banks as popular distribution channels of financial services. Asues are built on the values of community, fairness, and trust – values that converge with those upheld among Bahamians. Yet while traditional financial systems struggle to enhance climate-resilient mechanisms properly, asue stands as a promising solution that adequately provides climate financing to Bahamians.

Reframed as a tool for community-based climate financing, an asue can save funds geared towards dis- aster preparedness and recovery. These funds can be used to purchase emergency supplies, strengthen infrastructure, and ensure efficient and swift recovery efforts. Within this context, asue allows constituencies to be proactive rather than reactive to frequent natural disasters.

From a governmental standpoint, policymakers can strive to implement a robust legislative framework that recognises asues. This would provide the necessary legal backing and stability needed to encourage broader participation in asue-based climate financing. A legal framework also allows for the proper regulation of asues to offset financial mismanagement. The government can also make efforts to align support of asue-climate finance groups with the goals of The Bahamas Sustainable Investment Program (BSIP). The acquisition of support from organisations such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) also provides an opportunity to acquire crucial resources and technical expertise for asue-climate groups.

Amidst increasing hurricane threats, using asue as a climate financing tool is an innovative solution for The Bahamas. A long-held generational practice used among families and friends can be used to build a more hurricane-resilient Bahamas. Asue, along with alternative solutions to the climate crisis can safeguard the future of our communities, islands, and country.


New Providence

June 2, 2024

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