As various restrictions are lifted clean-up efforts are in full swing as personnel are allowed safely into the most impacted orange zone of St Vincent and the Grenadines after volcanic eruptions which started in April. UNDP in collaboration with the Buildings, Roads and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) have commenced an employment programme tied to ash and debris removal allowing the restoration of road access, removal of health hazards by allowing safe access to or safer habitation of affected communities is tied to the second pillar of the three-part UNDP Crisis Response and Recovery Programme for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This pillar addresses national priorities of the government and seeks to protect the health of residents while advancing the restoration of livelihoods.
Speaking to the progress, Dr. Reynold Murray, who is leading the UNDP-Recovery Efforts in St Vincent and the Grenadines Caribbean, stated that, “Activities have commenced in the north-eastern end of the island with the initial assignment being the cleaning of schools and access roads to schools and other public institutions. Additionally, the teams have cleaned the St. Benedict’s home for the needy and the Sisters Convent. To date, in excess of 5,400 cubic yards of ash have been removed. This proposed programme addresses national priorities of the government noting the positive impact the ash removal would have in terms of reopening of schools, protecting the health of residents and restoration of livelihoods. Following COVID-19 protocols, it will also provide short term financial and livelihood support to persons who have previously lost their jobs to the pandemic in addition to being impacted by the volcanic eruption.”
The programme will also assist the communities and government in cleaning ash, debris, bricks, cement, rubble and vegetation from the destroyed area, marketplaces, homes and streets to pave the way to rebuilding these areas and allowing safe access to communities and businesses. On completion, it is envisioned that 100 Vincentians will directly benefit from the programme. Further to this, emphasis has been placed on disaster assessments with UNDP leading the way forward in this robust data collection activity.
Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, noted the important of this type of intervention, “The programme serves the dual purpose of helping the community to help itself. Through the employment component, persons are able to secure an income while contributing to the development of the infrastructure and networks that provide for traditional employment structures. At UNDP, we are fully committed to ensuring that the communities we serve are fully equipped to build forward better and thrive even in the face of disaster.”
At this time when exogenous threats like COVID-19 and the current volcanic eruption in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are impacting the region, it is vital that developmental efforts are continued to reinforce the need for regional resilience and building forward better. This programme is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the “Blue Economy for Green Islands” vision. As the Caribbean continues to seek solutions to build resilience and livelihoods for traditionally vulnerable groups, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region and building resilient communities that can withstand shocks and crises through targeted projects and programmes.