Strengthening capacity in the Caribbean

Strengthening capacity in the Caribbean

(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The 2017 hurricane season reminded us all that the time for complacency in terms of improving physical infrastructure planning and construction has passed.

The sense of urgency is being acutely felt by most people in a number of islands in the Caribbean. The 2018 Hurricane season is only three months away. The need for a radical change in the way we build and plan our infrastructure is indisputable.

Monday, 5 March, the inauguration of the Dennery North Water Supply Project, in St. Lucia will take place. This projects improves water quality, and thereby health and living conditions of around 8.000 residents of this town on the east coast of Saint Lucia. The project was designed and built not just with today´s urgent needs in mind but also with attention to the long-term needs and challenges of the communities.

UNOPS implemented Phase 1 on behalf of the Government of Saint Lucia, with funding from the Government of Mexico. The project was executed in collaboration with the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) of Saint Lucia. The major infrastructural components included the design, procurement and construction of a raw water intake, transmission pipelines, a water treatment plant, pumping stations and distribution systems and was constructed in less than 12 months.

The Mexican Foreign Minister, the Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, along with the Executive Director of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID) and the Director of the Mesoamerica Fund will visit Saint Lucia to inaugurate the project along with senior officials of the Government of Saint Lucia and UNOPS representatives.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is a specialized agency and operational arm of the United Nations, supporting the successful implementation of its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects around the world.

UNOPS has a presence in 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its concentrated efforts are in areas where UNOPS has a clear mandate and expertise. These are:

 Sustainable Infrastructure

 Sustainable Procurement

 Project Management

A number of UNOPS supported projects across the Caribbean region will have important deliverables in the first and second quarter of this year:

UNOPS support to the Ministry of Traffic, Transport and Urban Planning, Curacao in relation to resilient infrastructure development and planning. One component is based on collaborative and innovative work between Oxford University, ITRC -Mistral and UNOPS. This partnership is enabling support and guidance that allows the Ministry to do long-term risk modelling and integrated planning of national infrastructure to ensure more informed decision-making regarding short, medium and long-term investments.

UNOPS support to the Government of St. Lucia in developing the capacity of the government in infrastructure planning includes the establishment of a new national infrastructure body and strengthening of the Development Control Authority. This initiative seeks to strengthen the national infrastructure plan and provide “one stop shop” service to developers and investors, thus facilitating responsible development in an efficient and effective manner.

UNOPS support to the Government of Grenada for the construction of a new Parliament building in St Georges, Grenada, replacing the old parliament which was demolished during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

UNOPS support to the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to restore the bridges that were damaged by the passage of a tropical weather system in 2013. The efforts focus on the mitigation against the impact of future heavy rainfall events through the protection of riverbanks; along with the renovation of the bridges.

Other UNOPS/Government infrastructure and procurement activities in Belize, Haiti, Antigua, Dominica, Trinidad and Jamaica are also in various stages of planning or implementation.

The lessons of 2017 must be brought into our physical infrastructure planning and execution and it must happen today. It can only happen through collaboration and a focus on innovative long-term infrastructure that is cable of serving the urgent needs of today while withstanding the long-term challenges of tomorrow.


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