Roof repairs begin in Barbuda with US$2million support from China Aid

Feb 2, 2018

Timber arriving at Antigua barge port for shipping to Barbuda for the China Aid/UNDP Hurricane Irma - Building Back Better Roofing Project. Photo Credit: UNDP/Kerrie Hall

In support of national efforts undertaken to repair affected buildings in Barbuda, the first roofing repairs with China Aid Post Disaster Restoration initiative kicked off, led by Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The partnership helps build back better after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on 6 September 2017 leaving a total US$52m in damage to all buildings and houses. Levels of damage ranged from minor (Level 1) to major (Level 4), with more severe damage on private structures than public ones, according to the NODS-UNDP Building Damage Assessment completed in November 2017.

“Initial post-disaster assessments showed that Hurricane Irma was a dramatic roofing disaster for Barbuda, and, therefore, roofs were a priority for the recovery process”, explained Aurelie Boukobza, UNDP Recovery Advisor in Antigua and Barbuda. “This South-South Cooperation initiative is crucial because once families have a roof on their heads, they can move back and some livelihoods can be reestablished.”

At the request of the Government and in order to fill a gap in material shortages on the island of Barbuda, a first shipment of timber for roofing repairs (22 bundles) arrived at Barbuda’s River Wharf by barge on January 14. This first shipment has ensured that Government-led repairs continue at a good pace, on critical homes and public buildings.

In particular, the Hannah Thomas Hospital in Barbuda is among the first of 250 buildings whose roofs benefited from this complement of material, with more than 100 sheets of plywood, almost 200 pieces of lumber and additional wood items urgently distributed to the designated contractor, to be used to fix the hurricane-damaged hospital roof. Repairs on the roof are now close to an 80 percent completion.

While repairs are led by the Government, UNDP is supporting on the distribution of material—with a US$2million support from China Aid—as per the priority needs, and providing oversight and quality control services in order to ensure the initiative meets high standards and benefits to as many as possible.

“Antigua and Barbuda is grateful for the generous support from the Government of China, with the significant $2 million contribution helping us to build back better for Barbudans, and for UNDP, for the significant assistance and technical skills to help us rebuild climate-resilient homes,” said Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, during a high-level event at the Hannah Thomas Hospital, with Barbuda Council officials, the Embassy of China and delegates, including UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative for Barbados and OECS Stephen O’Malley.

The initiative focuses on restoring lives with high standard roofing for homes and priority buildings, including government facilities. The houses of essential staff, such as teachers, medical personnel, civil servants, will be prioritized and eligibility criteria have been defined to determine the selection of houses to be repaired.

“On behalf of the China Government we would like to reaffirm our support for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, and for our brothers and sisters of Barbuda who suffered devastation, said China Ambassador HE Wang Xianmin. “The Government of China is delighted to support rebuilding this paradise."

Barbuda’s tourism sector was also deeply affected, with $72.6m in losses with all hotels closed by Irma-related damage.

The Government of China has joined UNDP to support not only the island of Barbuda, but also Dominica, with both initiatives totaling $5million.

The building back better strategy places affected communities at center of recovery efforts. Enforcing the national building code for all construction is also a major component of the UNDP-China Aid Post Disaster Restoration initiative. This entails a close partnership with the Development Control Authority (DCA) to launch a ‘best practice’ training manual, both for building professionals and the public. The objective is to rebuild with hurricane-proof standards, in line with regional and national regulations.

Also in line with UNDP core principles, local communities are being consulted and involved in the recovery process, to boost skills among affected women and men.

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