"Building Forward Better" has new meaning for the 12 families who received their renovated homes on Friday, under Phase 2 of the Housing Support to Barbuda Project led Government of Antigua and Barbuda and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) thanks to the financial support of the European Union (EU). The 12 homes are the first of 84 homes to be provided in the final stage of the €5 million-euro project to repair and rebuild homes that were either destroyed or severely damaged during Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Additional 20 houses were fully rebuilt in 2020.

These 12 new homes have been rehabilitated following UNDP's Building Forward Principles and takes into consideration the building back better techniques. Joycelyn Knight, one of the

beneficiaries noted, "We are familiar with the Bible story when Jesus healed the ten lepers, but only one returned to say thanks. I would like to be identified with the one leper who said thanks. Having an entire roof replaced is an expensive undertaking, therefore I am eternally grateful to the donors and all other entities involved for this great help".

This project is in line with UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean's mandate to build a more resilient region, Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative for UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean explained. "We are working with the Governments in the region to roll out projects such as this one that help to increase the resilience and capacity of the Caribbean", she stated adding, "there is no denying that the region faces many exogenous threats, the most recent of these being the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is therefore important to boost capacity and resilience and build forward better in the wake of any disaster.

Speaking on behalf of the EU, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska noted: "It is a pleasure to see our coordinated efforts literally taking shape in Barbuda as we celebrate the handover of the first batch of houses funded by the European Union. This is a first and necessary step in improving the livelihoods of Barbudans as these houses once again become homes. We trust that the lessons being learnt will create a "knock-on effect" and the systematic application of the Build Forward Better principle in new construction from now on."

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Prime Minister Gaston Brown, underscored his Government’s commitment to developing Barbuda in a sustainable and practical way by creating revenue and empowering Barbudans. He also expressed the importance of projects like these to not only provide housing for those who were adversely affected by Hurricane Irma but to provide consistent employment opportunities especially in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. He congratulated the beneficiaries and implored them to use this opportunity to expand their homes ".

Construction of the 12 new houses began in March and another 10 homes are planned to be

completed by the end of June. The Project will run until 2022 and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda with the support of the Beneficiary Selection Committee will continue the selection process to repair the most impacted homes to a total of 104 families.

As exogenous threats like COVID-19 are impacting the region, it is vital that developmental efforts persist in order to reinforce the need for regional resilience and building forward better. 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.

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