Slow assessments affecting quick donor attention

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Delays in a detailed structural damage assessment could be hampering Barbuda’s chances at securing international donor funds, according to Al Panico, an expert in disaster relief management.
Panico explained that timely assessments are critical in attracting donor countries and institutions. He named China and India as well as the World Bank, the European Commission and USAID as groups that need “tangible proposals.”
However, the National Office of Disaster Service (NODS) started quantifying the impact of Hurricane Irma in a detailed report two months after the Category 5 hurricane damaged 90 percent of the building stock on Barbuda.
Last Thursday, the agency sent a press release stating that although initial damage assessment was done, categorising the damage as Level One and Two, this week’s assessment is needed to prioritise reconstruction.
Panico said that during his first 10 days on the ground, he observed challenges in the management of the recovery. And after speaking with Barbudans at a special meeting last Monday, he has found that lack of communication and coordination are plaguing the rebuilding pocess. He used the scheduling of the Barbuda Ferry and the organising of cleaning gangs as examples of poor coordination.
“This is not unusual in big disasters,” he explained. However, he said it is “striking” that the “beneficiary communication has been not up to standard because people do not know what is going on.”
Panico, who has worked for 40 years with the Red Cross, however, noted that NODS and other people-focused agencies are already adapting to meet the needs of the agencies that could be tapped for funding.
He revealed that those reports, are need by the government to get the international relief Prime Minister Gaston Browne has made repeated calls for.
Using his experience of addressing common issues that have plagued all disasters in his extensive career the expert said: “There needs to be engaging communicators and beneficiary communication experts to help get the word out and those people get everybody’s information and pull it together and provide information on radio, TV, [and] print media.”
According to him, text messages could also be used to communicate with the beneficiaries as most individuals have access to a mobile device.

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