THE HAGUE, —The Sint Maarten Reconstruction, Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund is advancing critical reforms needed to ensure long-term national sustainability and through its projects producing many positive outcomes. This includes enabling financial resilience with almost 2,000 people receiving support and skills training to enhance their income and building climate resilience with majority of the population now protected from future impact of disasters. In addition, over 500 homes, roofs, and other critical facilities serving the public are repaired, 139 shipwrecks removed, and over 10.5km of the country’s shorelines cleaned. Residents and businesses located next to the landfill are being resettled, paving the way for better management of the country’s solid waste.
The Steering Committee of the Trust Fund, financed by the Government of the Netherlands, administered by the World Bank, and implemented by the Government of Sint Maarten, met this week in the Netherlands to review progress and discuss next steps.
The program is supporting Sint Maarten in rebuilding better after Hurricane Irma. With effective work by the National Recovery Program Bureau, an implementing agency created by the Government of Sint Maarten, the Trust Fund continues to make a positive impact in the lives of Sint Maarteners.
Building local capacity, enabling local ownership, prioritizing investments in society, economy, and improving the livelihoods of people and most vulnerable is central to the program. The Trust Fund is leveraging change by providing much-needed capital to over 150 small businesses, resources to 26 local civil society organizations so community programs can continue and expand, and by expanding healthcare services in Sint Maarten, healthcare costs have declined as 92 percent of people seeking care no longer need overseas referrals.
“There has been progress made in many areas, as reflected in the World Bank’s Mid-term Review, especially through the different emergency projects, the larger infrastructure projects, and the Enterprise Support Project,” said Sint Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs. “The Government and the people of St. Maarten hope to see a continuous commitment of all parties to realize progress in improving the quality of life on the island.
In reviewing the Fund’s performance – which in four years committed over US$360 million to 11 projects – the Steering Committee welcomed the additional allocation of €7 million provided by the Government of the Netherlands toward the Sint Maarten Hospital.
“This additional one-off contribution by the Netherlands to the Trust Fund will allow the new hospital in Sint Maarten to be completed. As a result, there is no need to cut back on other reconstruction projects,” said Dutch State Secretary Van Huffelen. “This will keep the all-important reconstruction of Sint Maarten on track.”
The Steering Committee recognized the Trust Fund’s challenging implementation outlook exacerbated by several global shocks impacting the program, including inflationary pressures, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions making construction materials, among other things, more expensive.
“For Caribbean countries inherently vulnerable to external shocks due their size and distance to markets, the disruptions in global supply chains and subsequent rise in inflation deeply impacted the cost of goods, food prices, and energy,” said Lilia Burunciuc, Director for Caribbean Countries, World Bank, and Steering Committee Chair. “We are prioritizing investments that will have the highest impact and are putting in place better buffers to protect against global pressures.”
The Steering Committee of the Sint Maarten Reconstruction, Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund will reconvene in March 2023.