REMARKS BY THE ACTING PREMIER OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
HONOURABLE KYE RYMER DURING THE LAUNCH OF THE EUROPEAN UNION 2M EUROS EMERGENCY SHELTER PROJECT
TUESDAY, 29 TH OCTOBER, 2019
11:00 A.M. | CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION COMPLEX
Your Excellency, Governor Jaspert;
Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Carvin Malone;
European Union Barbados Delegation Representative, Mr. Luis Maia;
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning.
It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning for the launch of this very important project aimed at strengthening our resilience as we continue on our recovery journey following the events of 2017.
Today is another reality that recovery is not at a standstill, it is not on pause, but rather recovery is on the move.
We continue to build strong partnerships with the European Union and we value this relationship as we continue efforts to build capacity in the area of disaster preparedness and recovery.
The year 2017 will forever be etched in history as one of the most catastrophic years in the development of the Virgin Islands with a major flood event during the month of August, and just one month after in September we were hit by two category 5 hurricanes, Hurricanes Irma and Maria which left wide spread devastation across the entire Territory.
The Premier’s Office on behalf of your Government of the Virgin Islands reached out to our long standing development partner the European Union for assistance with our recovery.
The European Union responded favourably in record time agreeing to give us a grant of 2M Euros to assist with us the rehabilitation of emergency shelters across the Territory which have been damaged by the hurricanes, for which we are extremely grateful and we want to say a heartfelt thank you.
The project, valued at 2 million Euros will focus on the rehabilitation of the following selected emergency shelters:
West End Community Centre
Cane Garden Bay Community Centre
Sea Cow’s Bay Community Centre
Anglican Church Hall
Purcell Community Centre
East End/Long Look Community Centre
North Sound Community Centre
Brewer’s Bay Community Centre and
Long Trench Community Centre,
The funding will also provide emergency relief supplies for these shelters, training for the public and private sector in resilient, safe and green (Smart) building strategies and standards and training in shelter management inclusive of psychosocial care.
At the completion of this project, the community centres which serve as emergency shelters during weather events will not only be repaired, but they will be repaired to SMART standards ensuring that they will be more resilient for future weather events.
I am also pleased that this project also has a component that builds capacity for the public and private sector in terms of training for shelter managers which expands the pool of individuals that can be called up for future events.
This allows for better management of the shelters and lessens the occurrence of managers becoming fatigued during prolonged periods of operation of the facilities as shelters.
I am also very pleased that the project will give some attention to the psychosocial care needs of citizens following future events. This is an area that we are still grappling with even today some two years after the 2017 storms.
I also want to thank the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) who will provide technical oversight for the implementation of this project and for also providing financial contribution towards the project by covering salaries for their technical staff assigned to assist with the implementation of the project. This means that more of the EU’s funding will go towards actual repairs for shelters.
The SMART Standards training and retrofitting of the centres will be implemented by PAHO SMART standards. This ensures that the resilience components will be addressed in the rehabilitation process and is expected to come in the form of detailed inspections, retrofitting of critical components of the structures with an emphasis on water and energy conservation and ensuring that the buildings are able to function during times of emergencies or disasters.
I know that the Premier is looking forward to the successful implementation of this project working closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Development, the custodian of the shelters and the Department of Disaster Management who manages the disaster preparedness activities.
This project is indeed very timely. The funding provided by the European Union for the repairs and training to be offered by PAHO will not only support the work of the project, but will be used to inform the rebuilding process and support the integration of standards that have been tested and are being promoted as a blueprint for achieving resiliency in critical infrastructure.
On behalf of Premier Honourable Andrew A. Fahie and the Government of the Virgin Islands, I once again want to thank the European Union and the Pan American Health Organization for your generous donations and for continuing to partner with us for the development of the Virgin Islands.
BVI recovery is indeed on the move!
I thank you.