Recovery Priority Areas
The Recovery and Development Agency is supporting the Government to deliver priority projects and to reach the vision of a Stronger, Smarter, Greener, Better BVI. This will take time and require the implementation of multiple programmes, which will be rolled out over the next five years.
The RDA, in consultation with the Government and ministries, has identified the most urgent priorities in the Government’s Recovery to Development Plan and has created a schedule for implementing the projects that will deliver immediate benefits in the most effective and efficient manner.
Annually the Government reviews the priorities and makes changes as necessary. For the immediate future, the initial phase focuses on those projects that will have the most impact and create the momentum to drive the recovery process forward.
Once completed, these priority projects will pave the way for the longer term recovery and future development of the BVI.
The priority sectors in which the RDA is working are:
Hurricanes Irma and Maria severely impacted the tourism industry, resulting in reduced tourist arrivals. As a mainstay of the local economy, the recovery and expansion of the tourism offering will be a catalyst for economic recovery.
Many of the BVI’s private island resorts, hotels and villas, along with much of the yacht charter inventory, were destroyed. There was also significant damage to visitor facilities and tourist attractions, and debris was deposited across the land and in the sea.
Recovery of the tourist sector is therefore a top priority. Although land-based tourism will take longer to rebuild, cruise ships have already returned to the Territory and the charter industry is rebounding quickly.
The short term aim is therefore to improve the aesthetic appeal, accessibility and facilities for cruise ship passengers and yacht charter tourists, by clearing up debris on beaches and roadsides, removing derelict boats and vehicles, installing facilities and restrooms at the most visited beaches, and rehabilitating key tourist attractions.
The future vision is for the BVI to become a low-impact, high yield ecotourism destination providing world-class accommodation, premier yachting facilities and a diversified tourism product.
Most education facilities across the BVI suffered some degree of damage during the floods and hurricanes of summer 2017, with six schools completely destroyed and others losing roofs, windows and equipment.
The majority of the main high school on Tortola, Elmore Stoutt High School, needs to be demolished and cleared before options for rebuilding can be considered.
Whilst school facilities are being restored or rebuilt (incorporating the SMART framework) many students are attending school in temporary facilities and tented classrooms that operate on a shift system. Immediate improvements to temporary primary and secondary school classrooms and recreational facilities and are needed to improve conditions for learning.
Over the coming years the aim is to overhaul the education system, to make it modern, well-resourced, technology-driven and relevant to the BVI’s environment. Teaching standards will be improved and curricula modernised, with a view to producing highly skilled individuals with the qualifications to participate in the BVI’s leading industries and contribute to the local economy.
One of the most significant impacts of Hurricane Irma was the level of damage caused to homes and buildings. Of the almost 7,000 affected buildings, at least 30% suffered major damage or were destroyed.
Replenishment of the housing stock is central to the recovery of the population.
In the short to medium term, the priority is to provide safe, healthy and dignified housing solutions to displaced individuals and families.
The RDA will work closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Development to identify the most vulnerable families, to repair a maximum of 30 houses and to provide temporary housing for 15 households.
It will also support the Ministry by providing technical assistance to develop a housing recovery programme and social assistance programme.
Follow-on support will consist of supporting the Ministry in the establishment of social housing services, community shelters for disaster preparedness and to protect the most vulnerable to ensure access to secure, insured and adequate housing.
Security and Law
Police stations, the court system, the prison and disaster alert systems were all negatively impacted by the 2017 disasters, weakening the Territory’s ability to maintain law and order.
Returning law enforcement institutions and communication networks to full functionality is key to restoring a sense of safety and security.
Immediate projects include repairs to various police stations and the Police Marine Base to re-establish the capability of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.
The RDA is also assisting with building a modern, resilient VHF radio communications system, which will allow for better inter-agency communications and coordination.
Future development goals include updating security, border control and the justice systems.
Damage to Government administration buildings and communications services affected the public service’s ability to function effectively in the aftermath of the storms.
The events of 2017 have ultimately created an opportunity for public administration to reassess how it functions and implement more efficient processes.
Future projects also include the renovation or rehabilitation of Government administration buildings, other government properties and infrastructure.
All elements of national infrastructure – electrical systems, roads, water, sewerage, telecommunications, ports and airports – were damaged to some degree by the hurricanes.
Not only restoring but also enhancing the infrastructure, to make it stronger, more efficient and more resilient, is the ultimate aim, but the short term priority is to carry out the necessary repairs to enable recovery to proceed.
Re-establishing the capability of Port Purcell to receive materials necessary for recovery, and the collection, processing and disposal of hurricane debris and construction waste at Pockwood Pond have therefore been identified as the most urgent activities in the initial phase.
Improving port facilities in Anegada and researching how telecommunication services could be made more resilient and offer better value for money are also priorities.
Long term programmes include transitioning to renewable energy, improvement of the water distribution system, sustainable treatment of sewerage, the redevelopment of all seaports, enhancements to all airports and the repair and expansion of roads and coastal defences.