Twenty vulnerable families in Barbuda were today handed keys to newly repaired or rebuilt homes under the European Union (EU) funded Housing Support to Barbuda project. Five of the houses required major repairs while fifteen new homes were built to replace ones which were destroyed in Hurricane Irma. The milestone represents the completion of the first phase of the project which is being led by the Government of Antigua & Barbuda and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A bidding process is currently underway for the second phase of the project, which aims at rebuilding up to an additional 130 houses with EU grant funding.
Akuwaah Benjamin, a mother of four, who like the other 19 families today, received keys to her home, expressed her gratitude and referred to her past hardship, “I’m so grateful for what they have done for us, I know a lot of people were living in tents and trying to get back on their feet.” Some of the beneficiaries had been forced to live in tents after Hurricane Irma destroyed their homes while others were displaced to Antigua or sought shelter with family in Barbuda. The Category 5 Hurricane which hit Barbuda in September 2017 damaged 95 per cent of homes and left around 44 percent uninhabitable.
Speaking at a handover ceremony today, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs Honourable Samantha Marshall said, “our government has worked tirelessly to reenergize Barbuda and make its development rapid and sustainable". Prime Minister Honourable Gaston Browne also noted, “I want to give thanks to the EU for the 5 million euros they have made available to rebuild homes in Barbuda”. UNDP Head of Office in Antigua and Barbuda, Mellissa Johnson added, “we know how much Hurricane Irma impacted your lives and those of your friends and family in Barbuda and we are pleased to be able to aid with the rebuilding of your homes.”
The EU Ambassador, Daniela Tramacere, expressed her gratitude to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, to the Barbuda Council and to the UNDP team for their joint effort to rebuild the homes. “It has not been an easy period for anybody, and the whole world suffers dearly from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the difficult context, this project has managed to deliver the first houses to their owners and to keep up with the expectations of both the Barbudans and of the European citizens who contributed to it”
Using the “Build Back Better” (BBB) approach, in compliance with the 2015 OECS Building Code, as well as the Antigua and Barbuda Building Guidelines, the homes are designed to better withstand future storms.
Recipients were chosen using strict vulnerability criteria by a Beneficiary Selection Committee (BSC) comprised of members from the Barbuda Council, Development Control Authority (DCA), Office of the National Authorising Officer (ONAO), National Office of Disaster Services (NODS), and Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs. The UNDP plays an advisory role on the BSC. The project contributes to the return of displaced residents, increases resilience and ultimately supports sustainable development in Barbuda.
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