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Interview: Hurricane-hit Caribbean nations can build back better, says UN development official

Island of Barbuda after major hurricane Irma hit
Island of Barbuda after major hurricane Irma hit UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Mere mention of the Caribbean conjures up images of pristine waters, beautiful beaches and fun in the sun. However, the images emanating from the region over the past couple of months have painted a very different picture.

“A paradise turned into hell,” was how United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described Barbuda earlier this month after visiting the island that was ravaged by Hurricane Irma. During a two-day visit to the Caribbean, he also witnessed the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the small island nation of Dominica.

Mr. Guterres was accompanied by Stephen O’Malley, the UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The biggest challenge is that the storms are getting stronger. And that seems to be the consensus of scientists, that these storms are going to get stronger

Stephen O'Mally
UN Resident Coordinator, Barbados & East Caribbean" icon="icon" avatar ="

“People want to live here for very good reason – they’re beautiful islands, it’s where people have lived for centuries, their families have lived here for centuries,” Mr. O’Malley said in an interview with UN News on the side lines of the Secretary-General’s visit. “So how do you make sure that you use the right techniques to keep yourself as safe, and your country as safe, as possible?”

Mr. O’Malley, whose remit includes Barbados and nine other countries in the region, describes what it was like for him to see the aftermath for the first time, what the priority needs are, and what countries can do to mitigate the risks as well as build back better following such disasters.

[ read the interview ] 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 October 2017 19:15

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Video: Stephen O’Malley talks about the UN helping storm-ravaged Caribbean countries as well as reducing disaster vulnerability in the region.
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