The islands of Barbuda and Antigua were hit on 6 September 2017 by Hurricane Irma with catastrophic effects. The storm’s eye passed directly over Barbuda resulting in wall winds, storm surges, and flooding. Antigua, while out of the path of the eye, experienced tropical storm force winds. Aggravating the situation, Hurricane Maria affected on 18 September 2017 the island of Antigua.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda requested support from the World Bank Group to undertake a recovery needs assessment, based on the characterization of the effects and impacts of the disaster. With support of the ACP-EU NDRR Program, and working jointly with the United Nations, European Union, Caribbean Development Bank, and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda was assisted to conduct the assessment. The Executive Summary is now publicly available, and the full assessment will be published at a later stage.
Some of the key findings of the assessment are that:
- The total damages – affected physical assets – of the hurricanes Irma and Maria for Antigua and Barbuda come to US$ 136.1 million, with the productive and social sectors most affected. The tourism sector accounted for 44 percent of total damage costs, followed by housing which accounted for 37 percent of all damage.
- The total losses – changes in economic flows resulting from the disaster – amount to approximately US$ 18.9 million.
- The recovery needs amount to US$222.2 million. US$ 79.6 million of this is needed to repair or replace houses, as in Barbuda 45 percent of the houses are uninhabitable after the hurricanes and 28 percent require complete replacement. Also smaller recovery needs are urgent, such as US$ 0.35 million for the water and sanitation sector, given that all water sources on Barbuda were damaged by Hurricane Irma and important water supplies were contaminated.
Based on the assessment of recovery needs, the report indicates priority actions for recovery. This includes recommendations per sector, as well as immediate-, short-term-, and medium-term actions. Examples of recommendations are to:
- Assess and stabilize the livestock population, providing food and water and needed.
- Conduct a detailed building assessment in coordination with the Barbudan Council.
- Retrofit and improve building resilience for school and public health facilities.
- Improve the national disaster risk information framework and emergency communications network to ensure communications services during a national disaster.