The new Shelter Recovery Programme (SRP) by the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross (ABRC) is helping Barbudans to purchase and install needed housing fixtures to get their houses geared for the 2018 Hurricane Season.
The SRP was developed as part of the Red Cross’ effort to assist in the recovery of Barbuda while coordinating with the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) other humanitarian organizations in operation in Barbuda such as Samaritan’s Purse and Barbuda Recovery and Conversation Trust (BRCT) that have assisted with the recovery.
To maximize effort, the decision was made to focus on providing essential housing fixtures such as doors, tiles, windows, water tanks, and spouting along with the supplies necessary for the installation of such. “For anyone to have a proper place and have the conditions to go back to their houses, this is what they need,” said Alejandra Van Hensbergen, ABRC Cash Transfer Program Delegate – Hurricane Irma.
Unlike usual cash transfer recovery programmes, the SRP incorporated elements embedded in the Red Cross philosophy, such as beneficiary involvement by allowing them to identify their specific needs (a bottom-up approach) and incorporated monitoring and evaluations to make sure that the implements are installed properly to ensure the beneficiaries’ safety and proper use of the materials. A shelter expert was also consulted in the making of the programme.
The target is to provide building materials for 250 households in 8 weeks, in a cycle that moves from registration, housing visits for measurements, transporting the beneficiaries to purchase the materials, shipping, distribution and referral to an installer for those that need the support.
Each household was accorded EC$3000 to use at a participating vendor. All beneficiaries are expected to be identified by the end of June. The first 50 have already received materials in Barbuda and the next 50 were transported on June 7th to purchase their materials in Antigua. Red Cross staff are currently meeting and registering with groups 3 and 4.
ABRC President Michael Joseph said that the seeds of the SRP were planted since December of 2017 and it was a lengthy process of development that finally saw fruition when the first group of beneficiaries who received their materials. The process took into account the feedback from ministers of government, the residents themselves, and even other humanitarian partners.
“Essentially, I think we have a robust programme, one that ensures that people get what they want, that we as a fund recipient translate [those funds] into something tangible….It allows for the checks, the balances and accountability that we as an organization need,” he said.
The ABRC collaborated with a number of partners in order to make the project happen. The first was the BRCT, an emergency-relief fund to help rebuild the island of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma. They have funded the cost of ferrying the residents to and from Antigua, where they purchased the materials.
The ABRC also partnered with Veg International located in Herbert’s, Antigua, which had all the materials to provide a one-stop shop experience for the Barbuda residents and also helpfully provided discounts in order to make full use of the ABRC donated funds. “We ensured the quality of the materials that they are getting…to have a safe house,” said Van Hensbergen.
“…We are very excited to be working with the Red Cross. It relies heavily on teamwork and communication and I think it is working,” said Veg International team member Janeir Brown, who along with other store employees, was on hand on June 6th to help the second set of 50 residents to verify their purchase orders and to identify other needed items in the massive warehouse location.
Retiree Randolph Beazer, 67, was a beneficiary of the SRP, who was present at the June 6th purchasing event. He relayed his overall satisfaction with the process commenting that the weather cooperated with calm waters and transportation to and from Veg International went smoothly. He also said the clear instructions from the Red Cross personnel and the assistance from the store employees helped to reduce the strain of the process and he was able to get exactly what he needed.
Beazer related that he had moved back to Barbuda on 12th October after the passage of hurricane Irma and that it has been a struggle. Additionally, as retirees, he and his wife were unsure of where they would source the money to replace the windows and doors. He thought of the Red Cross programme as a blessing.
“The Red Cross has come through again. Yesterday…the door was still out. We have a piece of ply board over it. Today, I have them. What can be better than that?” he said with a broad smile.
“I think everyone would agree that it has been a long and slow recovery process, but now we’re seeing more Barbudans return to the island and start the recovery process and I am happy that the Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross can be here to support them … with the repair and reconstruction of their homes,” said Brennan Banks, Operations Manager for the International Federation of the Red Cross for Hurricane Irma.
“This is one piece in an overall process of building a resilient community and it starts with having safe homes that are stronger than they were before to ensure that they have proper construction materials that meet the international standards,” said Banks. He continued, “The bigger process is how individuals, households and the communities prepare for disaster, what measures are they taking at home within their community to reduce their risk, to mitigate the risk from potential hurricanes or other emergencies.”
President Joseph was overseeing the second purchasing event and was pleased with the excitement and appreciation exhibited by the Barbudan residents. “…seeing the faces of those affected by Irma and seeing that this is … bringing together the end of a very horrific event, I think it demonstrates our contribution and our willingness to support those of varying vulnerabilities whether it is natural disaster, man-made or whatever reason. It is particularly important as the Red Cross that we continue to carry out our humanitarian mandate for those that need it most.”
The ABRC is urging Barbudans to make use of the SRP. “We understand the constraints of those who want to come back…. if they are within the criteria of the programme, they can benefit from the programme,” said Van Hensbergen.
Only those houses (one per household) that have been deemed to have a category 1 or 2 level of damage*or level 3 homes of essential public service providers as identified by the government are considered eligible. To qualify one would have been living in that house at the time of Hurricane Irma, have their permanent residence in Barbuda, and have already begun reconstruction on their homes.
*Post Hurricane Irma, the United Nations Development Programme assessed all houses in Barbuda and assigned numbers 1-4 to reflect the level of damage. Level 1 is minor damage while level 2 is partially damaged but habitable. Levels 3 to 4 indicated major structural integrity issues or complete destruction.
Photo Caption: SRP beneficiary Randolph Beazer with Veg International employee Barissa DeSilva picking out needed housing materials. (Photo Credit: Nikisha Smith)