December 10, 2019
By Lindsay Thompson
Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr Hubert A. Minnis has thrown his government’s support behind the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Donor Pledge Conference to be held in The Bahamas on January 13, 2020, in aid of Hurricane Dorian rebuilding efforts on Abaco and Grand Bahama.
He made the commitment during a press conference to announce the effort, at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday, December 10, 2019.
Also present among officials were Minister of State for the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction the Hon. Iram Lewis; Katherine Forbes-Smith, managing director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority; Captain Stephen Russell, director of the National Emergency Management Agency; John Michael Clarke, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Disaster Reconstruction Authority; and Denise Antonio, United Nations Development Programme resident representative who issued the final statement on the effort.
Prime Minister Minnis said: “Thank you for coming to today’s announcement of the United Nation’s Private Sector Pledging Conference to aid our reconstruction programme post-Hurricane Dorian, which is now the strongest ever recorded … storm [to make] landfall in the Atlantic and in The Bahamas.”
He also underscored the importance of the UN-sponsored conference, which is part of a broader programme and reconstruction strategy led by the Government of The Bahamas.
“This conference will leverage the resources of domestic and international private-sector and corporate groups who want to partner with the Bahamian people and the government to rebuild affected areas stronger, and with more resilience, especially in light of the global climate emergency,” the Prime Minister said.
According to the Prime Minister, the rebuilding must be modern; but should also be guided by the heritage, history and architectural richness.
Last week the Prime Minister held a ‘Thank You’ luncheon for the many public officers, uniformed forces, and NGOs who were on the front line of Hurricane Dorian – before, during and after.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, the UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock arrived in Nassau to render support, offer the condolences of UN Secretary General António Guterres and pledge one million dollars in aid and expertise.
The Prime Minister explained that due to the rebuilding task for the country’s second and third most populated economies, the government established a Ministry for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, and an Authority to spearhead reconstruction and cut through red tape in the process.
He noted that the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) estimated billions of dollars in total damage of four categories of the impacted areas.
Those categories are social, infrastructure, productive areas of the economy, and the environment.
In this vein, the government has already prepared specific reconstruction delivery plans, which have been crossed-referenced with the damage and loss assessment.
And, six sectors have been addressed namely housing, the environment/debris clean up, education, health, infrastructure and the economy.
“From these construction delivery plans, we have identified and prepared specific project concept notes.
“We are hopeful that the Pledging Conference will attract donations to address these specific projects,” the Prime Minister said.