An umbrella regional bank this week said it had set aside nearly $800 million to help Caribbean countries devastated by two of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record last year rebuild but they must do so using smarter and more resilient systems that would withstand future mega storms.
The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said borrowing members like Antigua, Barbados, Dominica and the Turks and Caicos Islands which were badly affected by hurricanes Maria and Irma, can access the money over the next five years and it will come in the form of grant aid and low interest loans.
But bank President Warren Smith said the agency and experts are determined to ensure that the money is spent to rebuild infrastructure that would be strong enough to deal with this year’s storm season which begins in June as it makes no sense going with the same systems used in the past as these are destroyed once a storm comes ashore.
Caribbean leaders who are scheduled to meet in Haiti at month end are expected to review plans for a complete revamp of how the regional infrastructure is constructed. Experts have recommended that electricity power systems be buried in sheltered or underground facilities so they could withstand storms, power cables should also run underground and stronger mobile phone towers should be constructed so telecommunication systems could work after storms leave.
“The Caribbean has had a long history of bouncing back from natural disasters and other external shocks. So, in the events of 2017, we see immense opportunity for the borrowing member countries to come back stronger and more resilient,” said Smith. “The challenges our region faces are bigger than what the bank can handle on its own. We have, therefore, been drawing on a combination of our own resources as well as funds intermediated through the bank by other development partners to meet this challenge,” he added