Virgin Islands emergency shelters will be rehabilitated through a $2 million euro project following a formal agreement between the Pan American Health Organization and the European Union, government announced last week.

PAHO will provide technical oversight for the implementation of the project, which will also distribute emergency relief supplies to the rehabilitated shelters; offer training for the public and private sector in resilient, safe and green building strategies; and train shelter managers in areas including psychosocial care, according to Government Information Services.

Elvia Smith-Maduro, acting permanent secretary in the Premier’s Office, said the funding arrangements were finalised through a financing agreement during the 17th OCTA Ministerial Conference in Tahiti, French Polynesia on Feb. 26.

“Discussions have been ongoing with the EU in this regard since early 2018 following the devastating impacts from hurricanes Irma and Maria,” Ms. Smith-Maduro said. “The EU has expressed a keen interest in supporting the upgrade of emergency shelters with the ‘Smart’ standards and techniques used by the Pan American Health Organization.”

10 shelters

PAHO has already been in contact with the Premier’s Office to start discussions on an implementation plan for the project, according to government.

“They will work closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Department of Disaster Management to obtain the necessary information to complete the initial assessments,”

Ms. Smith-Maduro said. “It is expected that at least 10 emergency shelters will be upgraded, and additional funding available through the Ministry of Health and Social Development to complete emergency repairs to these facilities will complement the pot of funds available to allow the emergency shelters to meet the international standards.”

Government recently presented a “Readiness Plan” for 2019 to the National Disaster Management Council that includes plans to repair emergency shelters.

The project is expected to be carried out over a period of two years through 2021.