The Government of the Bahamas relaunched construction of The Abaco Community Center & Hurricane Shelter today (Tuesday, 31 May 2022) at a signing ceremony convened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA), Disaster Preparedness Unit-OPM, and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) at the Office of The Prime Minister.
The relaunch is made possible by a one Million USD grant from the India-UN Development Partnership Fund. Through its Multi-Country Office in Jamaica, the UNDP is the United Nations (UN) agency executing the project, while the DRA is implementing it in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister and community stakeholders.
In attendance at the signing ceremony were: Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative; Dr. Garry Conille, UN Resident Coordinator; H.E. Masakui Runsung, High Commissioner of India to The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Turks, and Caicos Islands, and the British Virgin Islands; Hon. Myles K. LaRoda, Minister of State at The Office of The Prime Minister, Disaster Preparedness Unit; Hon. John Pinder, Parliamentary Secretary of Tourism, Investment & Aviation; Hon. Kirk Cornish, Parliamentary Secretary Office of The Prime Minister, Abaco; Carl Smith, Permanent Secretary, Disaster Preparedness Unit OPM; H. Alexander Storr, Chairman, Aarone Sargent, Actg. Managing Director, and Board of Directors of the DRA; and other distinguished guests.
UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Garry Conille in his remarks said: “This partnership with the Disaster Reconstruction Authority and the United Nations Development Programme is already – from its design – a promising example of strengthening resilience to the impacts of hurricanes that we hope will be replicated within the region and beyond.”
“UNDP remains committed to supporting The Bahamas to strengthen climate[GS1] resilience as climate change generates more frequent and powerful storm systems that threaten lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure. The Abaco shelter project will not only improve access to safe shelters during natural disasters but also model climate-resilient construction methods based on building forward better standards,” said UNDP Resident Representative, Denise Antonio
“Heaven forbid that we have to go through another Dorian experience, and while we pray that is not the case, we must be prepared for that event. Because we all know we may miss this year, next year, or the year after, we will have to deal with the impact of these storms that are becoming much more severe and much more frequent,” said Hon. Myles K. LaRoda, Minister of State – OPM, Disaster Preparedness Unit, NEMA, DRA, ZNS, NIB, & BIS.
The building’s sustainable design includes solar power, distribution and backup power generators powering low voltage energy saving ultra-long lasting LED lighting. The Center includes water-saving technology with backup storage to maintain operations for at least five days in the event of damage to the water supply infrastructure.
The construction of the shelter and community center will comply with the national building code and is designed to withstand winds up to 180 mph. The facility will feature impact-resilient windows and doors and include appropriate storage spaces for hurricane supplies. The center will also be used for recreation while bolstering youth development, social services, and education, uniting surrounding communities, and providing a haven for residents of Abaco.
The plans are to have the site reassessed and construction continued with the completion scheduled for 2023. The hurricane season officially starts on June 1st.
On September 1st, 2019, the Category 5 Hurricane, Dorian, devasted the Northern Islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, leaving behind loss of life and immense destruction of properties. Some of those effects of Hurricane Dorian are still being felt currently by Abaco and Grand Bahama.
The Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) is responsible for the management of reconstruction and restoration in areas designated as disaster zones. The DRA Act was enacted by the Parliament of The Bahamas in 2019 in response to the widespread devastation of Hurricane Dorian in the Northern Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane and the strongest cyclone to hit The Bahamas. The DRA is a corporate body that works collaboratively with national and international agencies in support of disaster recovery. The DRA is committed to maximizing recovery, reconstruction, and resilience outcomes with a mission of building a more resilient Bahamas.