UNDP Remarks at the Ceremony to mark the Closure of the ChinaAid for Roof Restoration in Dominica
Ian King, Head of Office, UNDP Dominica Project Office
16 November 2018
Hon Reginald Austrie, Deputy Prime Minister
Hon. Petter Saint Jean, Minister for Education and Human
Other Hon. Ministers of Cabinet
Your Excellency Ambassador LU Kun, Chinese Embassy in Dominica
Your Excellency Ambassador Juan Carlos Frómeta de la Rosa, Cuban Embassy in Dominica
Mrs Gloria Joseph, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development
Mrs Sylvanie Burton, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs
Mr. Lucien Blackmoore, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Lands
Other Permanent Secretaries
Mr. Massimiliano Tozzi, Project Manager, UNDP Dominica Project Office
Dr. Donald Peters, President of the Dominica State College
Heads of Agencies
Other representatives of International Organizations
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning. First I wish to extend apologies for UNDP Barbados and the OECS Resident Representative a.i. Ms Chisa Mikami who would have wished to attend this ceremony and sends her regards. Ms Mikami and the former Resident Representative, Mr. Stephen O’Malley were fully committed to the success of this initiative as have been UNDP as a whole.
Fortunately my colleague, Mr. Tozzi has given us a good outline of the achievements of the project and we have shared some of the printed material for reference. My role therefore is not to go through the specifics of what we have collectively been able to do, but perhaps to acknowledge the significance of the inputs and how these have contributed to the recovery and resilience sought by this country.
Clearly the Government of the People’s Republic of China deserve to be acknowledged for the continued contribution to this region and specifically the Commonwealth of Dominica as well of course as Antigua and Barbuda. When UNDP was invited to support this initiative, the questions were: how do we go through the process of procuring this material in the time allotted? What material and how much precisely? And then later, how do we realise the installation? Additionally, for the government of Dominica, ChinaAid and UNDP, just reinstallation of roofs was not enough.
Many partners in Dominica in late 2017 to early 2018 wrestled with the how and what of roof restoration. Fortunately we did this together under the leadership of the Ministries of Housing and Planning to seek common solutions. In this respect we are all indebted to Permanent Secretaries Gloria Joseph and Lucien Blackmoore as well as their teams not least Kelvin Rolle, Naomi Dorval and Hillarian Jules. We were also greatly assisted by Engineers without Borders first to ensure we worked towards the national building standards and also to provide solutions and quality assurance during implementation.
Regarding the implementation, UNDP was able to work with a number of partners such as All Hands and Hearts, Americares, CARITAS, Emergency Architects, IFRC, IOM, IsraAid; the Ministry of Health’s Project Management Unit, the Dominica State College and the laborers and engineers from Cuba to support the houses, schools, medical clinics, hospital buildings and of course this most important facility of the Dominica State College.
While as noted the rehabilitation of roofs was important, we appreciate these are a fraction of what needs to and is being done by individuals and families. Indeed the comprehensive building damage assessment conducted in concert with the Ministry of Housing between October 2017 and January 2018 illustrated that of the 29,431 buildings, 18% were totally destroyed, 26% with major damage, 28% with moderate damage and 27% minor damage.
Noting the foregoing, it was clear that this project provided an opportunity to improve the understanding and capacities to build resilient structures consistent with the national building standards. This was done with a vigorous outreach program in conjunction with the Ministry of Planning and Engineers without Borders to train over 350 construction workers in appropriate building standards; housing guidelines were revised in conjunction with the construction professionals; and public outreach conducted.
I can report that 2000 housing guidelines were printed and distributed and a further 5000 electronic copies downloaded from UNDP’s social media site not to mention those from the government’s own portals. A Spanish version of the Housing Guidelines has also been produced at the behest of the Ministry of Housing. I trust most people present would recall the model roof that we prepared to aid the outreach program. This was also showcased at Dominica’s 2018 Carnival on the streets of Roseau in our band in which we promoted the most effective way of installing galvanise sheeting with the caption “don’t nail it, screw it”.
In all of the above, the key theme has been partnership and cooperation. In this respect special mention must be made of a few individuals. While we were able to address re roofing of houses, schools, clinics and hospital buildings, the Dominica State College was a more demanding challenge. We note the commitment from the government of Cuba and specifically Ambassador Juan Carlos Frómeta de la Rosa to provide the team necessary for this job. We are fully aware that this was only possible given the Hon. Prime Minister Skerritt’s decision to prioritise the College for intervention and thank him for the continued leadership in this process.
Appreciation must also be bestowed on Dr Peters of the DSC and his able lieutenant Brian Meade for ensuring that we could be here today.
We must also appreciate the support and commitment of Ambassador LU Kun and Mr.WANG Quanhuo from the Chinese Embassy in Dominica who paid close attention to what we were doing on the ground and encouraged us to realise the goals, when at times these seemed just beyond possibility.
We applaud the great efforts made by all and particularly the government and citizens of Dominica in the ongoing recovery. We would also want to recommend the continued and enhanced outreach efforts to realising resilient reconstruction as supported under the ChinaAid initiative and remain willing to continue our participation in and support to these efforts.