NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government is working on its Resilient Recovery Policy, which will provide context and guidelines for a timely rebuilding process after a disaster, according to Minister of State for the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis.
Lewis, who was addressing the Canada-Bahamas Virtual Business Mission “Climate Resiliency and Reconstruction” yesterday, said; “The purpose of the Resilient Recovery Policy is to provide context and guidelines for recovery planning and operations that are timely, efficient and facilitate a pathway to resilient development.
“It also articulates the requirements that will inform the organizational and institutional arrangements to achieve this. This resilient recovery policy establishes a vision and a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and a rational process of recovery within the framework of the National Economic Development Plan.”
The Canada-Bahamas Reconstruction and Climate Resiliency Virtual Trade Mission was a business forum aimed at identifying ways both countries can explore public-private partnerships in sustainable developments.
“We can no longer sit idly by and twiddle our thumbs as our countrymen suffer as mother nature evolves; we must act!” said Lewis.
“Resilience is often defined as a system’s ability to absorb perturbation and return to some state of normalcy before the shock. I join many practitioners and academics in echoing that this is not enough.
“Resilience must allow us to leap forward and not just ‘bounce back’. If we do not take hold of this notion, our communities, islands and countries will remain just as susceptible or vulnerable.”
Hurricane Dorian impacted Abaco and its cays and East Grand Bahama as a Category 5 storm in September 2019. Lewis noted that the initial damage assessment for Dorian was valued at an estimated $3.4 billion.
“We are far from perfect in our approach to disaster management in The Bahamas,” said Lewis. “Nonetheless, we are trying to travel the road of resilience and sustainability.
“The Bahamas is perhaps one of the most vulnerable nations in our region. With 80 percent of our scattered islands’ landmass and atolls standing less than three feet above sea level, there is undoubtedly a need for us to ensure our resilience through adaptation and institutional strengthening.”
Lewis noted that in February 2020, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority launched its Small Home Repair Programme, allowing Bahamians impacted by Dorian to access up to $10,000 in funds for repairs.
“Some 7,000 people accessed our system for assistance on Grand Bahama and Abaco [and] to date we have approved some 3,750 homeowners,” said Lewis.
“Following Dorian, there was a dire need for temporary housing, which remains a critical need. Hence, over 100 domes were erected on the property of homeowners whose houses were destroyed.
“Some 40 dome homes were also shipped to Eastern Grand Bahama. Further to this, the government has entered a public-private partnership with the Discovery Land Company to develop 42 homes, free of charge, to 42 families in Abaco. Similar efforts will take place on Grand Bahama,” said Lewis.