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Updated On: Monday, 16 September 2019

Hurricane Recovery in the Caribbean

Content by: South-South News

16 March 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — Six months after two of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded over the Atlantic wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, women and men in island countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, British Virgin Islands and St. Maarten are working around the clock to build back better, with another hurricane season only four months away. In the immediate hurricane aftermath, governments requested the UN Development Program (UNDP)’s technical support to recover, while boosting climate resilience.

In Antigua and Barbuda - Barbuda being the most affected of the two sister islands - in partnership with the national Governments, UNDP joined forces with civil society organizations, using Microsoft-provided tablets and a tailored app to assess the comprehensive post-hurricane damages. While in both islands all buildings were damaged to some extent, the Building Damage Assessments conducted by national authorities with UNDP´s support provided crucial data for planning and for a more resilient recovery.

Arthur Nibbs, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Land and Barbuda Affairs for Antigua and Barbuda, said, “Our island is short of skilled workers. You may find a good number of people who are laborers, but in terms of more skilled carpenters and tradesmen, those are in shortage. So, I hope if there’s anyone listening now, that we’re looking for these kinds of workers, carpenters and masons, so we can expedite the rebuilding effort that is going on right now.”

He added, “The Chinese Government has made a sizable donation to us in terms of roofing materials. I think it’s in the region of 2 million US dollars’ worth of roofing material.”

In the immediate hurricane aftermath, the Government of China offered $5 million to support more resilient roofs for affected women and men in both countries, $3 million for Dominica and $2 million for Antigua and Barbuda, whose residents were all evacuated for the first time to Antigua due to the massive hurricanes. With UNDP’s support and led by national governments since the beginning of the year, roofing material and equipment are being used to rehabilitate homes and key facilities.

UNDP has mobilized nearly $22 million to build back better in the Caribbean following the back-to-back hurricanes in September 2017, and in the past decade invested nearly $300 million in disaster preparedness in Latin America and the Caribbean, working with governments at the national and local levels, as well as communities.

In Dominica, 44 percent of the buildings were severely damaged or totally destroyed, while 51 percent of all the private buildings have suffered important roof damages. In partnership with the national Government, UNDP joined forces with civil society organizations and used Microsoft-provided tablets and a tailored app to assess the comprehensive post-hurricane damages. The Building Damage Assessments conducted by national authorities with UNDP´s support provided crucial data for planning and for a more resilient recovery. UNDP also worked with national counterparts to beef up the construction standards, supporting more resilient building code amendments.

Dennis Mialki, an engineer working for Engineers Without Borders (EWB), is taking part in those efforts. “We are a volunteer group of engineers, strictly volunteers, we go to different countries when we are called to do so, in this case we are working with the UNDP here in Dominica, and our role is quality assurance of the materials that are being supplied by UNDP,” he said.

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