British Virgin Islands
Overview An archipelago consisting of four main islands and over 50 smaller islands and cays, the British Virgin Islands is home to 30,180 people.
In September 2017, two devastating Category 5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, left a trail of devastation across the territory, causing widespread damage to homes and road infrastructure, and disrupting basic services leading to the loss of lives and livelihoods.
UNDP has been on the ground in the BVI since October 2017, supporting both recovery and reconstruction efforts while working closely with the government and communities.
Main Initiatives In the British Virgin Islands, UNDP implements a ‘Build Back Better’ approach to recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction – the aim is not only to reconstruct but to increase resilience against future disasters.
In this vein, UNDP supported the Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) with the UN Rapid Assessment Mission to determine immediate response needs post Hurricane Irma and assisted the Disaster Recovery Coordinating Committee of the Premier’s Office, in designing early recovery interventions and drafting the Recovery to Development Plan and the Recovery to Development Act.
UNDP also established a Project Office (April 2018 to June 2019) to assist with the efficient and timely implementation of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)-financed $65.29 million Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Loan (RRL) to rebuild critical social and economic infrastructure in the transport, water and sewerage, education and national security sectors. By providing project management, procurement and strategic sourcing support, financial management and other technical expertise, UNDP, with the support of partners, helped build resilient infrastructure, restore government functionality and facilitate socially and environmentally conscious recovery in the BVI.
Timely warnings and high-quality forecasts delivered to vulnerable communities, which are then translated into preventative actions can help to save many lives and reduce economic losses. However, Hurricane Irma and Maria severely impacted BVI’s disaster management systems and structures, including their early warning system network. Through the RRL, UNDP supported the Government in the purchasing of seismic networks, data collection, weather monitoring, telecommunications and early warning equipment. This now robust, early warning system will increase the country’s capacity to generate and communicate effective, timely and clear warnings of hurricanes and extreme weather events, and to manage disaster risks.
Vital to the success of the recovery process is ensuring that it is gender-responsive and that there is community ownership. Community input is sought during each project phase and mechanisms have been put in place to receive, evaluate and address project-related complaints and suggestions. UNDP recognizes the particular vulnerability of women and girls to climate-related disaster risk as well as their unique skills and experiences relevant to disaster risk reduction efforts. Therefore, UNDP continues to raise awareness and strengthen the capacity of public officials on how to integrate gender issues in disaster risk management, recovery and reconstruction projects.
In order to build resilience following the 2017 hurricanes and diversify its economy, the BVI is seeking to grow thecountry’s blue economy. To help the BVI accomplish this, assistance was provided on the formation of a Strategic Blue Economy Roadmap 2020-2025, which includes innovation interventions supported by the Global Accelerator Lab on Blue Economy and Sustainable Management of Ocean Degradation. This Roadmap examines key sectors in the blue economy including fisheries, tourism and maritime monitoring and will provide guidance in the creation of an enabling environment for sustainable development.
Currently, UNDP is supporting the COVID-19 emergency response in the BVI, partnering with the Government in the production of an Economic and Human Development Impact Assessment, with the collaboration of UNICEF and UN Women. The support package of UNDP will include assistance to SMEs who wish to reinvent themselves through online, digital and HomeSafe delivery business lines.
Did you know?
Only 16 of the 60 islands in the BVI are inhabited!