O’Malley said Dominica still has a long road to recovery

UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Stephen O’Malley said he is happy with the results of a donor conference held at the UN earlier this week to assist hurricane-battered islands in the Caribbean.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria, both category-5 storms, hit the Caribbean in September causing a number of deaths and widespread devastation. Barbuda and Dominica were among the most severely affected, along with a number of other Caribbean islands and costs in damage are expected to surpass $5-billion.

“I think we’re extremely happy with the results of the conference,” O’Malley said in an interview with UN News.

In relation to Dominica, he said the island has a very long road to recovery.

“It is a very long road to recovery,” O’Malley said, noting that while the roads in the capital, Roseau, are more or less clear and water is back, only three percent of the country currently has electricity.

In addition, agriculture has been badly affected.

“It’s still a hard time,” he stated.

Nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organizations and the private sector gathered in New York, along with the Secretaries-General of the UN and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to help the affected countries “build back better.”

“They want to be a climate-resilient region,” O’Malley said, explaining that this involves practical steps from the way a country’s road network and electricity grid are designed to ensuring that schools and hospitals are built to withstand the impact of climate change.

“It’s your infrastructure. It’s also better planning and preparedness by the governments so that they can respond more quickly,” he pointed out. “They have the capacity to do that […] there’s a variety of different things there to make everybody more climate resilient.”

Donors pledged over US$2-billion at the conference which was attended by Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, and other regional leaders.