The ongoing public meetings on the Disaster Recovery and Development Plan have been well attended and productive, eliciting meaningful discussion and sound ideas from a wide cross-section of the community.
We hope that many of those ideas will be included in the final plan, and that they will be carefully heeded going forward.
The following are just a few of the pertinent suggestions for the plan that have emerged in recent weeks:
- It should be much more specific, detailing how projects would get done and when;
- it should look ahead 10 to 20 years;
- it should include a roadmap for attracting in-demand workers such as nurses and other medical professionals;
- it should lay out ways to strengthen and diversify communications systems;
- it should include a focus on the sister islands;
- it should include plans for social programmes like unemployment insurance;
- it should include a strategy for conserving records and cultural artefacts;
- it should include a detailed strategy and timeline for reforming the public service in keeping with promises made by successive governments; and
- it should include details of a sustainable solid waste strategy.
All of these suggestions — and many others floated at the meetings — merit careful consideration, and we trust that leaders will incorporate them in the final recovery plan as far as possible.
As we and others have argued before, the draft presented to the public in December needs much work. But the ongoing consultation exercise is an encouraging step in the right direction: So far, it has been well organised, starting with stakeholder sessions that segued into the ongoing general meetings in each district. Residents are also invited to submit comments in writing.
Given the many opportunities to weigh in, no one can say that they haven’t had a chance to be heard.
Kudos to all who participated. As the plan is completed and implemented, we hope that the community will stay involved, and that government will facilitate continued participation by providing an ongoing avenue for public input.
In many respects, the hardest part of the territory’s recovery is yet to come, and success will require teamwork from start to finish.