29 April, 2021 – “It is through unity and collaboration that we can overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.” This was the sentiment of Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean as the Multi-Country Office partnered with UNDP Trinidad and Tobago and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to coordinate the procurement and transport of tools and equipment to accelerate the implementation of Pillar 2 of The UNDP Crisis Response and Recovery Programme for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The second pillar of the three-part plan, addresses national priorities of the government and seeks to protect the health of residents while advancing the restoration of livelihoods. The project will assist communities and government in cleaning ash, debris, bricks, cement, rubble and vegetation from the destroyed area, market places, homes and streets to pave the way for rebuilding these areas and allowing safe access to communities and businesses. This essential aid comes at a time when heavy rains are compounding the issue and causing flooding and mudslides in an already tenuous situation. The much-needed clean-up efforts can help mitigate the flooding and will also provide short term financial support to persons who have previously lost their jobs due to COVID-19 in addition to being impacted by the volcanic eruption.
Leveraging UNDP networks to procure the needed equipment and supplies, the Eastern Caribbean team liaised with the UNDP Trinidad and Tobago team who quickly and efficiently supported this procurement action. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago also lent its assistance and provided freight aboard the Galleons Passage to ship the gear and materials directly to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The vessel left Trinidad for the Kingstown Port in St. Vincent on April 28, 2021.
Randi Davis, Resident Representative UNDP Trinidad and Tobago, spoke to the collaborative effort stating, “We were delighted to be part of a coordinated effort to get relief and supplies to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The national governments of the Caribbean have proven that unity is strength in a time of crises and we at UNDP stand ready to assist countries when they need it most and especially ensure that those most vulnerable receive the assistance they require.”
The emergency employment programme will require labour as well as tools, equipment and the use of light machinery. Work will be coordinated in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Wellness & the Environment as well as the Ministry of Transport, Works, Lands and Surveys and Physical Planning. Workers will be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, boots, face masks, goggles and helmets, where neccessary. Safety training will be conducted and in keeping with the agency’s mission of building forward better and boosting community resilience, tools and small equipment purchased under the programme will be kept by the community members for their use, after the process is completed.
As 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 persist in order to reinforce the need for regional resilience and building forward better. UNDP will continue discussions with donors and partners to accelerate recovery efforts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This recovery action 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.