UNDP cash for work programme helps hurricane-hit Turks and Caicos Islanders finance home repairs

March 19, 2018

View AFTER THE STORM: The video feature on the Cash for Work programme

On Turks and Caicos Islands, the tell-tale signs of two category five storms lingered through February 2018, especially on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but men and women working shoulder to shoulder have been cleaning up, while earning some home repair money.

Over a four week period, starting February, teams clad in bold orange and yellow workman vests dumped the last remnants of Irma’s and Maria’s fury into trash bags.  Combing roadways and verges with rakes and machetes they had two things in common: They were all Turks and Caicos Islanders, and they were significantly impacted by the hurricanes.

Aubrey Forbes, whose roof took a battering during the September 2017 arrival of the hurricanes welcomed the work. “I could (now) buy some material to repair my roof,” he said. “I thank God for everything for the help they give us because things were very rough for us - very tough.”

Aubrey is one of 103 Turks and Caicos Islanders selected by local authorities for a major post hurricane cash for work clean-up project supported by the UNDP country office in Kingston, Jamaica, in partnership with the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Red Cross.

Richard Kelly, Programme Specialist at UNDP country office in Kingston Jamaica said under the project it was mandatory to recruit workers who were most impacted by the hurricanes. He said this approach had resulted in injecting needed cash in the hurricane-affected communities, and providing temporary training and employment opportunities to the recruited workers, of which 30 percent were women.

Yvette Cox, District Commissioner, South Caicos, which was hard hit by the hurricanes declares the strategy a success. “It went well and served the purpose two fold – by … helping those most vulnerable and significantly affected by the hurricanes, and the island benefitted through the clean-up. “

“I feel the programme has been a success in that although we had done a great deal of clean up, there was still small debris stuck between trees and on sidewalk like– bottles, cans, plastic, wood zinc etc. that might not have been cleaned up earlier” the District Commissioner said.

Garvin Thomas, Assistant Deputy Director of Public Works in the Ministry of infrastructure, Housing and Planning said the clean-up project lasted for 15 work days spanning four weeks and was monitored by Public Works Department and the Red Cross. He said he liked the integral role played by the Red Cross and deemed the project a success and an inspiration.

A female Turks and Caicos islander whose house was damaged during the storm is one of those sources of inspiration.  I thank God for the work she says.  “I had no job, nothing to do. Now I get something to do to help my children and my house ….”   

UNDP Programme Analyst for Capacity Development Analyst in Kingston country office, Ava Whyte Anderson, said the project provided immediate short term livelihood to 42 beneficiaries on South Caicos and 61 on Grand Turk.

But livelihoods is only one part of a package of solutions UNDP is working on in partnership with this vulnerable Small Island Developing State. The country office is also supporting the creation of a Debris and Waste Management Plan comprising medium- to long-term management and recycling strategies and is supporting the Government’s disaster recovery and resilience plans. To this end, support is being made available for the development of a financial protection strategy, disaster risk reduction training and recovery grants for micro, small and medium enterprises, to be completed by the end of May.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria passed by the Turks and Caicos Islands in September, 2017, severely damaging especially the islands of South Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Cay.