Sun | Sep 15, 2019

UNDP cash-for-work programme helps hurricane-hit Turks and Caicos

Published:Wednesday | March 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Recruits cleaning up a section of roadway on one of the islands of Turks and Caicos.
Recruits cleaning up a section of roadway on one of the islands of Turks and Caicos.
Recruits cleaning up a section of roadway on one of the islands of Turks and Caicos.

On Turks and Caicos Islands, the telltale signs of two category five storms lingered through February 2018, especially on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but men and women working shoulder to shoulder have been cleaning up, while earning some home-repair money.

Over a four-week period, starting February, teams clad in bold orange and yellow workman vests dumped the last remnants of Irma's and Maria's fury into trash bags. Combing roadways and verges with rakes and machetes they had two things in common: they were all Turks and Caicos islanders, and they were significantly impacted by the hurricanes.

Aubrey Forbes, whose roof took a battering during the September 2017 arrival of the hurricanes, welcomed the work. "I could (now) buy some material to repair my roof," he said. "I thank God for everything for the help they give us because things were very rough for us - very tough."

Aubrey is one of 103 Turks and Caicos islanders selected by local authorities for a major post-hurricane cash-for-work clean-up project supported by the UNDP country office in Kingston, Jamaica, in partnership with the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Red Cross.


... Hurricane relief strategy a success


Richard Kelly, programme specialist at the UNDP country office in Kingston, Jamaica, says under its hurricane relief project in the Turks and Caicos Islands it was mandatory to recruit workers who were most impacted by the category five storms that struck last September.

Kelly said this approach had resulted in injecting needed cash in the hurricane-affected communities, and providing temporary training and employment opportunities to the recruited workers, of which 30 per cent were women.

Yvette Cox, district commissioner, South Caicos, which was hard hit by the hurricanes, has called the strategy a success.

"It went well and served the purpose twofold - by helping those most vulnerable and significantly affected by the hurricanes, and the island benefited through the clean-up.

"I feel the programme has been a success in that although we had done a great deal of clean up, there was still small debris stuck between trees and on sidewalks like bottles, cans, plastic, wood zinc, etc, that might not have been cleaned up earlier," the district commissioner said.


Clean-up project


Garvin Thomas, assistant deputy director of public works in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning, said the clean-up project lasted for 15 workdays spanning four weeks, and was monitored by the Public Works Department and the Red Cross. He said he liked the integral role played by the Red Cross, and deemed the project a success and an inspiration.

A female Turks and Caicos islander, whose house was damaged during the storm, is one of those sources of inspiration.

"I had no job, nothing to do. Now I get something to do to help my children and my house ..., " she said, thanking God.

Ava Whyte Anderson, UNDP programme analyst for capacity development in the Kingston country office, said the project provided immediate short-term livelihood to 42 beneficiaries on South Caicos and 61 on Grand Turk.

But livelihoods is only one part of a package of solutions the UNDP is working on in partnership with this vulnerable small island developing state. The country office is also supporting the creation of a Debris and Waste Management Plan, comprising medium- to long-term management and recycling strategies and is supporting the Government's disaster recovery and resilience plans. To this end, support is being made available for the development of a financial protection strategy and disaster risk reduction training and recovery grants for micro, small and medium enterprises, to be completed by the end of May.

When hurricanes Irma and Maria passed by the Turks and Caicos Islands in September 2017, severe damage was caused, particularly in the islands of South Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Cay.

The UNDP country office in Kingston serves Jamaica, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands.