The Bahamas government is today welcoming international pledges of US$1.5 billion funding for the country’s recovery following the Hurricane Dorian donor conference.
The funds were pledged yesterday during a special conference in The Bahamas capital, Nassau, which was organised by the Government of The Bahamas and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation. The pledged conference at the Andros Ballroom, Baha Mar Convention Centre received the full support of the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.
During the conference these countries, local and international organisations as well as others pledged to mobilize financial and technical support for recovery efforts in The Bahamas, following the passage of Hurricane Dorian.
“Thousands of residents have been displaced. We are a resilient people and the Government of The Bahamas welcomes all initiatives that will help us move along the path of recovery.”– Prime Minister Hubert Minnis
Through a message on its Twitter account, the Prime Minister’s office described the pledges of support made by non-governmental organizations, multilateral institutions, businesses and private individuals as important. This and other initiatives by the UNDP have helped to raise critically needed funds for the restoration of the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahamas, the territories most devastated by the weather event last September.
At the public forum, nearly 300 national and international delegates endorsed the solidarity with the Bahamian people and the donation will go into the National Trust Fund for Recovery and Reconstruction. Speaking at yesterday’s conference, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis urged the biggest nations to help the rest of the world face the challenges of a warming planet, including even more destructive climate events.
Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane hit the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in September 2019 and left widespread devastation estimated at US$3.4 billion, according to assessments conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The pledge conference was aimed galvanizing support from the private sector, high-net-worth individuals, other Governments and donors who have expressed interest in assisting with the recovery.
A senior level working group has already been established to facilitate follow-up on commitments made at the conference. It will also manage support for the implementation of funded objectives and report on progress. The working group will be comprised of representatives from the government, the private sector, and the UNDP.
In the aftermath of the hurricane, Prime Minister Minnis reported that “parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama were decimated by Hurricane Dorian. To date, the official death count stands at 70 with more missing. Thousands of residents have been displaced. We are a resilient people and the Government of The Bahamas welcomes all initiatives that will help us move along the path of recovery.” He said support from the private sector and from persons who consider The Bahamas a second home will help to augment our efforts to build back better and stronger and with more resilience.”
For her part UNDP Resident Representative to The Bahamas, Denise Antonio explained that “the high-income classification for The Bahamas means that the Government will have to mobilise private sector or other donor financing to pay for its short and medium-term recovery needs.”
She said the UNDP was committed to supporting the Government of The Bahamas to mobilise recovery financing because the country has limited access to overseas development assistance and concessional financing due to its classification as a high-income country.
In the meantime, The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency and the Ministry of Public Works, supported by the UNDP have adopted the use of an innovative new technology to conduct building damage assessments across the islands affected by Hurricane Dorian.
This innovative way of data collection produces real-time interactive reports for rapid assessments. The Building Damage Assessment (BDA) Toolkit designed by UNDP is currently being used by technical staff to quickly assess damaged conditions of private residences, public buildings and non-residential buildings affected by Hurricane Dorian.
To date, approximately 3,000 houses in Grand Bahama and Abaco have been assessed using the online tool. The valuable data collected in the field has been informing the Government on how to proceed with the recovery process. Further, it will assist the Government in cost estimations of damages and for planning new and more resilient public policies to build back better.
Since 2017, UNDP has been supporting other Caribbean countries in the aftermath of natural hazards using the BDA Toolkit. This methodology was already implemented in Barbuda and Dominica following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, respectively.