Wednesday 6th June, 2018 –Minister of Barbuda Affairs Hon. Dean Jonas hosted what has been described as a very timely and interesting meeting with a delegation from the University of Southampton at the Ministry’s Headquarters yesterday (Tuesday).
The University of Southampton in the United Kingdom is seeking to carry out a study on disaster recovery in Antigua and Barbuda following the devastating hurricanes of 2017, with the hope to deliver results which are of direct benefit to long term disaster recovery in the Twin Island State.
The four-member delegation, lead by Gavin Costigan, Director of Public Policy, Southampton, was welcomed by Minister Jonas who gathered further details of the inaugural visit.
Costigan said that while here, they have been speaking with a number of individuals who are involved in disaster risk reduction and resilience.
According to Costigan, the university’s goal is to build a long-term partnership with Antigua and Barbuda and to look particularly at what happened in the 2017 hurricane season in Barbuda, the lessons that could be learnt and what the needs are.
He said the focus is not so much in terms of urgent needs, but in terms of developing long-term resilience.
He said the university’s idea of wanting to do something following the effects of 2017 hurricane season in the region was further strengthened after having dialogue with Antigua and Barbuda’s High Commissioner to London, Karen- Mae Hill who was extremely keen for them to work with Antigua and Barbuda.
Costigan said he was impressed with the meeting with the Minister of Barbuda Affairs, whom he said has a very great overview of all the different issues affecting Barbuda following the devastation of the hurricane.
He said it’s a major piece of work to bring Barbuda to what it was before the hurricane, but he is confident that with the right approach, it can happen. Two members of the delegation visited the island today (Wed) to get a first hand view of the recovery process.
In outlining areas in which he thinks the university can assist the Minister of Barbuda Affairs points to the need for an overall Development Plan for Barbuda to include focus on the entire structure of governance.
He told the group that fishing is one of the main economic activities on the Sister Isle and he would welcome a study to explore the abundance of the sargassum seaweed and its effects on fish.
Other issues of concern the minister highlighted in Barbuda were the gradual increase in roaming animals especially donkeys, lack of business continuity (slow business recovery especially after a disaster), continued education and the land ownership issue.
Minister Jonas is suggesting that a preliminary study/report on this exercise be forwarded to the government and other key officials, in an effort to conduct a wider study through funding from the U.K, the government of Antigua and Barbuda and other key funding agencies.