ECLAC to assess damage and loss in Barbuda

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A two-member delegation from the Economic Commission for the Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), met with key stakeholders yesterday, on establishing relationships, for the Damage and Loss Assessment (DaLA), to be undertaken in Barbuda.
Speaking with OBSERVER media, Diane Quarless, director of the ECLAC sub-regional headquarters, said that the mission is necessary, in soliciting international funding to aid in the rebuilding process.
“Once a hurricane has hit, it is important that a country is able to present a credible assessment of the impact. So, you can take it to the international community to say, all of what you see here, was unprecedented and unanticipated, and can we receive assistance, some of which will be received in loans or in grants,” she said.
Quarless said that the cost incurred from extraordinary events such as “acts of God” are not part of a government’s regular budgeting process, and as such, under normal circumstances, affected countries would need additional support to recover.
“While every budget makes provision for contingency, it would have to be within a realistic perspective. But, the impact of a catastrophic event such as a Category 5 hurricane, you need to appreciate that productive infrastructure is destroyed, and makes it difficult for the economy to be buoyant for years to come,” she said.
“The countries of the Caribbean that are being hit by catastrophic wind forces that decimate them; it is very important for the international community to fully appreciate the almost insurmountable challenge that a small economy may face in trying to find the resources internally.”
A ten-member team is set to arrive in two weeks to begin assessment of all the sectors that were impacted by the passage of Hurricane Irma.
“We will be looking at the damage that has been done to the education, health, housing, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, transportation and communication sectors,” said the director.
“We will also estimate opportunity cost that has been lost across the board as well as the impact it will have on the affected population.”
The team which will be led by Dr. Omar Bello, who is the head of the Sustainable Development and Disaster Unit of the ECLAC sub-regional headquarters, will consist of structural engineers, demographers, economists, and medical personnel, who will engage in assessment over a ten-day period.
Stating that a report, which will be crucial in the reconstruction of Barbuda, will be produced between a month to six weeks after the assessment, Quarless said: “Prime Minister Browne specifically asked us to make recommendations which will identify where the vulnerability in the buildings that existed and the processes that were observed that existed in structures to help to prevent similar errors in the reconstruction process.”

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