The United Nations’ (UN) partnerships with local organizations has resulted in the collection of nearly two million metric tons of debris on Abaco, according to UN Assistant Secretary-General Dr. Luis Lopez-Calva.
His comments came during the opening ceremony for the Hurricane Dorian private sector pledging conference at the Baha Mar Conference Centre yesterday morning.
“To date, we have initiated a partnership with local communities, which will result in an estimated 1.7 million metric tons of debris collected through our cash for work program in Abaco; collaborated with government in the application of UNDP’s household and building damage assessment tool to assess approximately 4,000 buildings in the affected islands; and we have partnered with the University of The Bahamas to prepare a user-friendly manual, which translates building codes into understandable materials for families as they rebuild their homes,” Lopez-Calva said.
He added, “UNDP’s recovery work in The Bahamas aims at promoting sustainable and disaster-resilient infrastructure; restoring the environment through community participation; strengthening national and local capacities for recovery planning and co-ordination and improving communications and knowledge management on the recovery process.”
Lopez-Calva said the UN Development Programme has given $1.2 million in financial and technical contributions since Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.
“Notwithstanding Bahamas’ income classification, UNDP has made the effort — within the limits of its capacity — to offer support for the long haul, especially in mitigating, withstanding and overcoming climate change and its impacts, informed by your own national development priorities,” he said.
“In September 2019, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner announced immediately the release of funds in technical and financial support to the hurricane recovery effort.”
Dorian impacted nearly 30,000 people, left thousands displaced and killed at least 70.
The Category 5 storm cost The Bahamas about $3.4 billion, according to a recent assessment.
However, according to Lopez-Calva, the cost of damage may be more.
“Our UNDP team was among the first to be on the ground in The Bahamas since September 2019,” he said.
“It has witnessed [t]he severe and heartbreaking scenes of devastation across the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Precious lives have been lost, thriving economies decimated and livelihoods put on hold.
“Damages have been assessed at no less than $3.4 billion but the domino effect on development can be far more costly unless we rethink how we plan, how we prepare and how we build better and stronger.”