Govt. and UN to launch Dorian pledge conference

Govt. and UN to launch Dorian pledge conference

“Urgent” need to raise funds to complement $10 million home repairs fund

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government and the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) will launch a pledge conference on January 13, 2020, to raise much-needed funds to aide Dorian recovery programs.

At a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said the fund raised are expected to help in six sectors: housing; the environment and debris clean-up; education; health; infrastructure; and the economy.

He said the government is “quite urgently” seeking to raise funds to complement its $10 million fund for home repairs.

“The government will leverage the resources of domestic and international private sector and corporate groups, who want to partner with the Bahamian people and the government to rebuild affected areas stronger and with more resilience, especially in light of the global climate emergency,” said Minnis, adding that the response to Dorian over the many years ahead of reconstruction must involve building sustainable and strategic partnerships “home and abroad”.

Minnis said the ultimate mission is to modernize the affected areas and rebuild sustainability, utilizing the talents, ideas and energies of Bahamians and the impacted residents.

Days after the storm, the UN pledged $1 million in aid and committing to sending experts to assist with the relief and recovery efforts.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimated the total damage, loss and costs associated with the storm at $3.4 billion.

The prime minister thanked the UN for its “tremendous support”.

During the presser, UNDP Resident Representative Denise Antonio reaffirmed the international body’s support through financial assistance, assets and professional teams on the ground in affected areas.

She said the UNDP is actively seeking to engage the private sector and philanthropic individuals to help finance the recovery of The Bahamas and the pledge conference is a unique opportunity to align pledges of support for the reconstruction and recovery effort.

“If it imperative that we collectively develop a mechanism to facilitate this alignment, as part of the new modality for development financing for Caribbean countries like The Bahamas,” she said.

“We are equally committed to securing the funds required to finance recovery projects, and to ensuring that the people of The Bahamas are the ultimate beneficiaries. The level of devastation experienced on Abaco and Grand Bahama inevitably means that recovery will be a long, arduous road, but the UNDP is confident that with the right mechanisms in place, we can in partnership with stakeholders, achieve the outlined objectives.”

Calling Dorian the latest example of the increasingly debilitating impact of climate change, Antonio said these events are a wake-up call for the world to recognize the validity of the threat and the urgent response required.

She said the UNDP is committed to doing its part to help mitigate future impact.

This includes plans to inject financial resources into the affected communities through a cash for work program, which is hoped to empower the most affected.

She said: “This will help to advance debris clearance and management in Abaco”.

An estimated 2.06 million cubic yard of debris was strewn across the affected islands following the storm.

According to Antonio, true recovery must go beyond the response, and begin with actions taken to reduce vulnerability to risks and improve resilience.

Antonio assured that the UN will continue to work with the government and the people of The Bahamas to “further propel the recovery efforts” post-Dorian and to help ensure the nation advanced sustainable development goals.

In a sideline interview following the presser, Antonio was unable to say how much the pledge conference is expected or hoped to raise. She appealed for well-poised stakeholders, philanthropists and other available entities to answer the call to assist The Bahamas recover.