Heads of local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) met with His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert on July 9 to address ongoing preparations for this hurricane season.
Governor Jaspert commended the Heads for their commitment to the communities throughout the Virgin Islands following the impacts of Irma and Maria.
“I saw the value of the organisations to the community. We must therefore continue to encourage this and build a stronger alignment among the NGOs and with the DDM,” Governor Jaspert said.
Representatives discussed the efforts that are being put forth in the preparation process and defined areas of focus which the various NGOs will support in getting the Territory ready for the peak of the Hurricane Season.
“We are focusing very much on the need for greater community partnership.” Governor Jaspert said.
Premier Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith OBE, Ministers of Government and the Governor are all working closely together on disaster preparedness. The Cabinet of the Virgin Islands recently approved $3.98 million to assist in the prioritisation of the Disaster Readiness Program being implemented through various ministries and coordinated by the DDM.
NGOs are said to be playing a vital role in supporting this work and local groups are helping to deliver both local support and that from overseas.
The meeting also discussed the NGO partnership approach that is being facilitated through the SMART Communities Project. Following the passing of Irma, the project paid greater attention to the issues that arose in the targeted communities of East End/Long Look, Jost van Dyke and Sea Cows Bay.
Chairman of the initiative and past President of the Rotary Club, Ryan Geluk commented on the importance of partnerships with other NGOs.
Mr. Geluk said, “Right now, it is quintessential in this programme, to start bringing the NGO partnerships together as a more structured model here within the BVI. Before Irma, everyone knew their areas and worked in their own periphery but in the past 10 months, we see that working together in a more collaborative effort is more desired. We can do a lot more together than we can do apart.”
The SMART Communities Project is fully funded through a grant agreement provided by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and administered through a partnership approach involving the BVI Red Cross, BVI Rotary Club, Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society and direct support from ADRA.
Mr. Geluk said the SMART Communities project does not just focus on community resilience but on bringing everyone together.
He added, “It has the potential to revolutionise how we within the BVI respond and work together on disasters that may impact us in the future and how local NGOs can play a more defined role in the Territorial Disaster Management Programme.”
The meeting concluded with the NGOs agreeing to support several key areas namely Health and Sanitation; Community Emergency Response Training; Public Awareness; Provision of Contingency Stocks; Shelters and Shelter Management; Relief Distribution and Community Clean Up initiatives.
Funding for the areas will be derived from approved Government funds, financial contributions from NGOs and support from external partners.