Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Tuesday, 29 October 2019 - 2:24pm


11:00 A.M.

Good morning. I am delighted to join with the previous speakers in celebration of this highly relevant and timely Emergency Shelter Repair project, which is made possible through the generous financial support of the European Union through its Disaster Fund. 

In times of disaster we are most starkly reminded of the vulnerability of our infrastructure and economies, as well as our interdependence and interconnectedness as nations and peoples of this rapidly changing planet. It is no secret that our homes, businesses, churches, community centres, schools, healthcare facilities and other critical buildings bore the most visible scars of the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands in 2017.  Beyond aesthetics, the full restoration of these buildings is essential to the smooth functioning of the society and remind us that, ultimately, all disasters have human faces – the boys, girls, women and men, families, social support groups and communities that struggle to restore a sense of safety and security; and the confidence to emerge stronger than before. We have come quite a long way since 2017 with the help of development agencies,  donor and humanitarian partners, and volunteers from all walks of life, to whom we are eternally grateful, and with whose support the rebuilding and recovery continue.

Permit me to highlight one development partner that has provided extensive assistance in the restoration of our clinics and senior homes – an agency with which we enjoy a particularly active and robust affiliation – the Pan American Health Organisation.

PAHO is also our key implementing partner for the ongoing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies project being funded through a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank.  We are therefore extremely delighted that PAHO has accepted the responsibility of managing the implementation of this Project on behalf of the Government of the Virgin Islands, and we look forward to another successful collaboration.

Most of the buildings being addressed under this Project are community centres which play a significant role in each community where they are constructed.  They do not only offer a place of shelter during natural disasters such as hurricanes; they also house important activities for our seniors, children, young people and civil society organisations.  For these reasons, my Ministry has placed a high priority on conducting repairs to community centres from Anegada to West End. 

The first phase of ‘emergency repairs’ have been geared at ensuring that most of the buildings were rendered water-tight in order to prevent further deterioration and restore a basic level of functioning within available resources.  These works include roofing, the installation of windows and doors, repairs to electrical and plumbing systems, kitchen cabinets, and perimeter fencing; as well as the painting of interior and exterior walls. 

You can well imagine our excitement at the news that the EU had approved the Government’s application for funding to not just repair, but strengthen, upgrade and in some cases, expand several of these critical facilities.   With a keen sense of gratitude and relief we welcome the fact that their improved resiliency will allow the Territory to provide better protection for people who seek shelter from storms and other hazard events in the future.

Beyond that, our elation stems from the prospect that this Project will be a catalyst for positive ripple effects throughout the beneficiary communities – promoting exercise and recreation; providing meeting spaces; keeping children and adolescents safe; and providing spaces for seniors to interact. 

With that said, I would like to conclude by again thanking the European Commission and the Pan American Health Organisation for their financial and technical support, as well as the teams from the Premier’s Office, Department of Disaster Management and, my own Ministry of Health and Social Development, whose tireless efforts resulted in the successful commencement of the project.  I trust that this collaboration will continue to be fruitful as we work together to improve the welfare of our community. I Thank you.