Efforts are ongoing to rebuild the island of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma hit it in September 2017. Stronger building techniques to help the island and its people to withstand future hurricanes or earthquakes are one of the strategies being employed as construction continues.
The Category 5 Hurricane destroyed 95 percent of Barbuda’s infrastructure and buildings.
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) is working in Antigua and Barbuda to boost the Island's post-Irma recovery. According to UNDP Recovery Advisor, Aurelie Boukobza, in November its team of technicians and construction experts conducted an extensive assessment of the structures on the island and the level of damage to each building.
On Friday, the UNDP hopes to launch a relief project, which aims to install hurricane-resistant roofs on 200 houses in Barbuda. So far the most significant obstacle to the recovery of Barbuda has been the lack of people on the island. After the hurricane Barbuda was declared “uninhabitable,” and the island’s population of 1,700 were ordered evacuate and take refuge in Antigua.
In early January, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, “We need people back on Barbuda. The biggest problem undermining the recovery is that we do not have sufficient people on Barbuda. They need to go back home." The UNDP project along with government efforts to repair the sole primary school in the island and the hospital are expected to provide incentives for the people to return to their homes.
On Wednesday Boukobza explained, “the whole purpose of the project is to build back better.” A crucial part of not limiting reconstruction efforts to replacing what was already there is to make sure the new structures can withstand similar hits. The UNDP project received a US$ 2 million donation from the Chinese government.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to lead efforts to collect donations to make reconstruction possible.