BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has helped mobilize US$25 million, supported the revision and use of improved building codes and restored over 800 buildings for the most at-need people in Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, some of the countries hit hardest by two powerful back-to-back hurricanes that devastated several Caribbean islands a year ago.
The results are highlighted in a new report, only days after Caribbean islands braced up and withstood the passage of Tropical Storm Isaac and exactly one year after category 5 Hurricane Maria wrought havoc in Dominica.
Working with national governments and affected communities, UNDP partnered with sister UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector in the recovery process, including in initiatives to train hurricane-affected people to rebuild their own communities while injecting needed cash for families, according to the Summary Report “Hurricanes Irma and Maria, one year on: From early recovery to long term resilience in the Caribbean” on the efforts to build back better in three of the hardest hit countries: Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands and Dominica.
The initiative provided training and emergency employment to 400 people in Dominica, 42 percent of them women, and 28 in Antigua and Barbuda. Nearly 1000 contractors were trained in more resilient recovery techniques to build back better.
“We are honoured that Caribbean countries affected by the devastating hurricanes one year ago trusted UNDP to support their recovery efforts and we are proud to have been working on the ground with governments – at the national and local levels – and with several partners since the immediate aftermath,” said UNDP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean Luis Felipe López-Calva, thanking several partners that provided financial support for the recovery process.
With $5 million support from the government of China to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, UNDP partnered with national and local governments and several organizations to install new, more resilient roofs, in devastated houses.
In Dominica, 488 buildings were restored, including three schools, five health care centres and essential government buildings, in addition to the main hospital and the state college.
In Antigua and Barbuda, the first China Aid initiative in the Caribbean exceeded the target to repair 250 damaged roofs and strengthen national building code standards, with a total of 302 homes and essential facilities served with roofing materials, during the nine-month relief and recovery project completed on 30 June.
In Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, UNDP partnered with Microsoft, which provided a tailored app and tablets that enabled the swift damage assessment of over 30,000 buildings. With the geo-referenced and visual data used to evaluate damages and needs, governments and partners had timely evidence to back a more risk-informed recovery.
In the three assessed countries thousands of tonnes of debris were removed, enabling the recovery process in essential roads, schools and tourism sites, In Dominica this meant re-establishing healthy and safe living conditions in targeted areas for more than 5,000 people. In the island of Barbuda, over 3,000 tonnes of disaster and construction debris were removed, while in the British Virgin Islands the debris was not only collected but also sorted and recycled.
In the British Virgin Island, UNDP also provided management support and technical expertise to the ministry of finance to implement a $65 million Caribbean Development Bank rehabilitation and reconstruction loan.
UNDP staff working in the affected countries note that the recovery process is still ongoing, in spite of the many challenges and a new hurricane season. They note that many key services are still disrupted in several areas and houses still need to be repaired, but progress is significant and visible, as partners continue to build back better focusing on boosting resilience for long-term sustainable development.