Published On: Mon, Jul 16th, 2018

First US $55M of Trust Fund released for projects

SXM-Irma-St.-Maarten-Recovery-Reconstruction-and-Resilience-Trust-Fund-World-BankPHILIPSBURG/WASHINGTON - The World Bank has assigned the first US $55 million grant from the St. Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund financed by the Dutch government to assist the island after Hurricane Irma.

St. Maarten Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and World Bank Country Director Tahseen Sayed on Wednesday signed the first grant from which the first projects will be funded torepair public shelters, support the repairs of severely damaged houses of low income families.

The first US $55 million will also be used for projects to increase the resilience of the electricity utility and water system, to strengthen the emergency response capacities of the Fire Department and first responders in the face of natural disasters, the World Bank announced in a press release on Thursday.

The first grant covers one of four emergency projects fast-tracked and endorsed by the St. Maarten Trust Fund Steering Committee last June to rebuild the island after Hurricane Irma hit the island on September 6, 2017.

“Patience is a virtue as the saying goes. With the signing of this Emergency Response Project for US $55 million, we have achieved yet another milestone in St. Maarten’s recovery process,” stated Romeo-Marlin.

“As I have stated on numerous occasions, the St. Maarten government remains committed to seeing this process through to its conclusion and thus ensuring a successful recovery on behalf of the St. Maarten people,” said the prime minister.
A Steering Committee meeting will take place on Friday, July 13 with representatives from St. Maarten, the Netherlands and the World Bank to review additional recovery needs and advance the preparation of new projects.

“The signing of this first grant agreement is not just another piece of paper. It is the turning point from project preparation towards realisation. I look forward to achieve tangible results in the next few months,” said Steering Committee Representative for the Netherlands Frans Weekers.

According to the World Bank, since the signing of the agreement with the Netherlands to establish the Trust Fund on April 16, 2018 “significant progress” has been made including the preparation and endorsement of four projects and the identification of ongoing reconstruction activities for retroactive financing.

All financing systems and processes to ensure transparency and appropriate environmental and social standards will follow World Bank guidelines and policies. The new Trust Fund manager from the World Bank, Michelle Keane, was appointed on July 1 and brings many years of experience in post disaster reconstruction and programme management.
“I am encouraged by the commitment of the government and pace of the progress so far,” said World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Sayed. “Our experience in post-disaster situations across the world is that it is essential to build back better and promote resilience. The St. Maarten National Recovery and Resilience plan recognises this, and this first approved project is well aligned with these priorities.”

The World Bank team of experts is already working with the St. Maarten government and other local partners on the island to strengthen capacities to better manage disaster risk.

Photo: St. Maarten Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin (second from right) and World Bank Country Director Tahseen Sayed (second from left) on Wednesday signed the first US $55 million grant. At left Trust Fund Steering Committee Representative for the Netherlands Frans Weekers and at right the St. Maarten representative on that same committee, Marcel Gumbs. (World Bank photo)

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