Philipsburg, Sint Maarten — On Friday, March 26, 2021, the Government of Sint Maarten achieved a large milestone for the country as it pertains to disaster preparedness and resilience building. In the presence of the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Dr. Carissa Etienne, Head of the European Union Delegation Responsible for Sint Maarten Fernando Ponz Canto and other pertinent stakeholders, the 11th European Development Fund B-Envelop Shelters project under the theme: “building resilience by improving emergency response and disaster preparedness for the people of Sint Maarten”, was launched.
During the event, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs delivered the keynote address. The project will be funded fully by the European Union and will be executed and implemented by the Pan American Health Organization, the Americas arm of the World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
In December 2020, the Contribution Agreement was signed between the EU and PAHO, solidifying the project’s actions and their mutual commitment to enhance the island’s resilience. The Ministry of General Affairs (AZ), Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA) and the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Infrastructure and Environment (VROMI) are also key stakeholders for this project. The project aims to build two resilient SMART multipurpose shelters in the communities of South Reward and Hope Estate.
These multipurpose shelters will not only provide safe lodging for vulnerable residents during times of disaster but will also have a multi-purpose function for the community, outside of the hurricane season. The project will also raise awareness and increase capacities within the communities, on disaster preparedness and response, ensuring that the relevant communities are equipped to safeguard themselves and their families.
During the high-level launch, the Minister of VSA Richard Panneflek spoke about the importance of building a resilient health sector on Sint Maarten; where continued health care is paramount. The Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs Silveria Jacobs expounded further on: “Overall disaster preparedness response in Sint Maarten and the importance of community engagement in this Response.”
The session concluded with Prime Minister Jacobs thanking all stakeholders for their continued efforts and urging persons in our communities to prepare a family disaster plan as well as to take an active part in the coming information sessions on disaster preparedness.