NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The first 40 domes for the government’s $6.4 million temporary housing initiative in Abaco has arrived, according to Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Committee Chairman John Michael Clarke.
Clarke said on the island and preparations are being made to install them.
The government has announced that the Family Relief Centre near Spring City, Abaco, will house 125 of the 250 domes, while the other 125 will be reserved for homeowners who are restoring and or repairing their homes.
“We are going to start with Spring City and we are going to start with 40 domes in Spring City,” Clarke told Eyewitness News Online.
“The domes are actually on the island of Abaco. They are preparing the bases to start the installation of those domes. They should be commencing this week.
“After they do Spring City, they will do the other residential subdivisions. So you’ll have Central Pines, Murphy Town, Dundas Town, Marsh Harbour and the Cays.”
Clarke said after feedback from residents requesting domes to be placed on their properties, the decision was made to ensure ease of working and convenience for resident in those areas.
Hurricane Dorian, the strongest storm to ever hit Northwest Bahamas, devastated parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco, leaving thousands displaced and hundreds missing.
The government has announced it will create for temporary housing for displaced storm victims, that will only be in place for two years until individuals and families move into permanent housing.
The Family Relief Centre covers 12 acres of land. Each dome structure includes plumbing, drainage, a sewer system, and electricity; and will be able to accommodate up to five people.
In a November 2 risk assessment, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) expressed concerns over the upcoming relief site.
“This relief centre is expected to be open for 24 months,” the report said.
“It is unclear whether this relief site will be built to Sphere Standards. The Department of Social Services along with the government policy makers are going to determine the protocols for the persons who go into the Family Relief Centre in Abaco.”
It continued: “It is understood that there are currently no schools located near the proposed site of Family Relief Centre. It is also anticipated that construction workers, who are primarily males, will be living amongst the affected population, creating a potential gender imbalance amongst residents.
“This could increase risks of GBV if not managed properly.
The report added: “Opportunities to advocate around lessons learnt from other humanitarian actions in setting up longer term shelter sites is timely, this includes advocating on rankings based on vulnerability, and on ensuring that the relief site meets international standards.”
But Clarke said he is confident that the dome facility, which will be managed by the Department of Social Services, will follow international standards.
“I’m sure social services, who has carriage for the operation of shelters and the like, will follow best international practice and take into account any concerns that the the International Federation of Red Cross, who is one of our leading partners and NGOs may have,” he said.
“Social services will assist the government in setting the protocol for who qualifies to be in the family relief center.
“I am certain that when that is done, Social Services will make that decision based on best international practices, taking into account all the relevant standards based on gender and everything else into account…If after it is established there is an issue, then we will deal with it then. But to deal with it prior to them even assigning people is premature.”
The government had previously announced that a man camp would be set up for individuals island doing cleanup and construction works on the island.
However, Clarke noted yesterday that plan has also shifted.
“The government took the position that the man camp for workers and the like, that would be driven primarily by the private sector,” Clarke said.
“So what you will find is different private sector vendors, as they go back and they hire contractors to do work, the contractors are a part of their cost. They build in living facilities for their construction staff.
“The family relief that is being provided by the government is strictly that,” he added.
“You may have some workers there who were there previously and may have lost their house and qualify to be in the Family Relief Centre, but it isn’t specific for persons who are pursing construction jobs and the like.”