KINGSTON, Jamaica -- At the peak of the hurricane season, The University of the West Indies (UWI) said it remains watchful and poised to lend support to its Caribbean neighbours. Outreach has begun for the recovery efforts in Belize after it was hard hit by Hurricane Earl.
The storm, which made landfall south of Belize City just after being upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane last Thursday, August 4, 2016, resulted in major flooding in the central and coastal areas of Belize. Belize City and surrounding villages were among the most affected areas with some major bridges rendered impassable.
Inland areas including the Belize River Valley, Cayo District and Stann Creek District suffered tremendously and will feel the economic burden of lost banana, citrus and grain crops even as Belize picks up the pieces.
In a letter the same day, UWI vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, assured Dean Barrow, prime minister of Belize of the support of university experts in the areas of critical need, both in the short and longer term.
Commenting on the matter, Beckles said, “In the face of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Earl I was relieved to see the efficiency of the emergency management efforts and the resilience of the people. We know that there are difficult days ahead but The UWI commits to partnering with the people of Belize to shorten the period of hardship and assure Belize’s return to growth in the next several months.”
Dr Luz Longsworth, pro vice-chancellor and principal of The UWI Open Campus, who has lived and worked in Belize for many years, has been charged with the responsibility of engaging Belize’s leadership team and working to marshal the significant skills of UWI experts across the region toward the recovery cause.
The UWI’s outreach to Belize follows similar support extended to The Bahamas and Dominica last year as they also faced the effects of natural disasters. These efforts are in line with the university’s renewed commitment to activism in respect of all the major challenges facing the region.