FAO has mobilized USD 300 000 from its Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities – Agricultural Inputs Response Capacity (SFERA-AIRC) – thanks to the financial contribution from the Government of Belgium – to deploy staff and assist vulnerable people and communities on the path of Hurricane Irma, which left a wake of destruction in the northeastern part of the Caribbean.
Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St Martin and Turks and Caicos were the most affected islands (OCHA).
FAO’s Subregional Office for the Caribbean is already working with the governments of affected countries to assess the impact on fisheries and agriculture to pave the way for the recovery of livelihoods, and ensure adequate food access and nutrition.
In Barbuda and Antigua, FAO is deploying an expert to conduct a rapid needs assessment with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Preliminary discussions and assessments indicate that the Hurricane has destroyed standing crops, agricultural infrastructure, machinery and equipment, the 250-acre coconut plantation and processing facilities. In addition, the livestock sub-sector has recorded animal losses (i.e. cattle, goats, pig and poultry) as well as the destruction of shelter facilities. The fishery sector was also affected, however the extent of the damage is being assessed.
In Cuba ‒ the last country in the Caribbean to suffer the effects of Irma ‒ early assessments from the Government indicate medium- to long-term needs in the agriculture sector, as many vital crops in the affected provinces were lost to the storm. FAO is deploying an expert to work together with national authorities to conduct a rapid needs assessment.
In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where damages were localized, FAO’s country offices are supporting local authorities to manage the response, and asses the needs to restore production activities in the affected areas with local resources.
FAO is providing support through SFERA’s AIRC window that allows to quickly release funds for rapid, on-the-ground interventions.
Belgium’s contribution to SFERA is crucial in order to provide immediate livelihoods assistance, ensuring that communities struck by natural disasters are able to protect and recover their livelihoods. Affected communities urgently need to resume their production and income-generating activities in order to avoid the deterioration of their food security and nutrition, as well as the adoption of negative coping mechanisms that lead to increased vulnerability.