UNDP mobilized funding, restored buildings and boosted hurricane preparedness in Barbuda

Timber arriving at Antigua barge port for shipping to Barbuda for the China Aid/ UNDP Hurricane Irma – Building Back Better Roofing project. UNDP Barbura/Kerrie Hall

September 18, 2018

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has helped mobilize millions of dollars in funding, supported the revision and use of improved building codes and restored buildings for the most at-need people in Barbuda, one of the islands hit hardest by 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.

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 28 people in Barbuda. Contractors were also 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 financial support from the government of China, UNDP partnered with the Antigua and Barbuda government and several organizations to install new, more resilient roofs, in devastated houses.

In 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.

UNDP also 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 Barbuda, over 3,000 tonnes of disaster and construction debris were removed.

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.