UN And EU Allocate $826,000 To Repair Homes In Cuba Destroyed By Hurricane Irma

House destroyed in Caibarién by Hurricane Irma. (Pedry Roxana)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 October 2017 — The European Commission has approved a project of 700,000 euros to repair damaged houses in the municipality of Yaguajay after the passage of powerful hurricane Irma, which ravaged Cuba between 7 and 10 September. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will be responsible for reconstruction work on the ground with the budget provided by the European Union (EU).

“About 8,000 most affected Cubans in the municipality of Yaguajay, Sancti Spíritus province, will get help to recover from the devastating storm by restoring their homes and living conditions,” the UNDP said in a statement on Wednesday.

The initiative will also “contribute to strengthening the local capacities to withstand recurrent disasters due to extreme weather,” such as Hurricane Irma, category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, whose winds of up to 130 mph and heavy rains left 10 people dead and 14,657 homes destroyed. The UNDP’s goal is to make hurricane-resistant repairs through the use of locally produced materials.

Hurricane Irma also completely destroyed the roofs of 23,560 houses, while another 103,691 roofs suffered partial damage. The EU and UN program intends for brigades specialized in the laying of roofs to be responsible for rebuilding these affected homes.

“The project will also pay special attention to groups of families and people in conditions of greater vulnerability,” explained Soledad Bauza, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Cuba.

This EU economic contribution to post-hurricane reconstruction is in addition to the $2.5 million the UN has already provided through Emergency Response Funds. Previously, $500,000 was allocated to buy tarps, mattresses, roofing and equipment for the local production of construction materials to help the victims of Irma from Villa Clara to Camaguey.

The international aid will ease slightly the housing shortage in Cuba, which continues to worsen, according to the report of the National Defense Council published in late September, which estimates that 158,554 homes were affected by the hurricane on the island, around 4% of the homes in the country.

By the end of 2016, there was a deficit of more than 880,000 housing units on the island and part of the housing supply was deteriorating and with “critical” problems, especially in cities such as Havana and Santiago de Cuba, according to reports presented to the National Assembly.