On September 6th 2017, Antigua’s sister island of Barbuda was devastated by category 5 Hurricane Irma with sustained winds peaking at 185 mph (295 km/h). The majority of the island’s infrastructure was damaged leaving over 1800 individuals displaced. The long journey to reconstruction has started and Antigua and Barbuda’s Marine Ecosystems Protected Area (MEPA) Trust, played its part by partnering with donors and partners to manage resources for relief action in Barbuda within the conservation area of focus.
Specifically, the MEPA Trust agreed to partner with the Waitt Institute, the Barbuda Recovery and Conservation Trust (BRCT), the International Community Foundation (ICF) and the Department of Environment.
The Waitt Institute and the ICF has channeled USD 253,000 through the MEPA Trust for funding critical needs in Barbuda. In addition, the initiative called “Art for the Islands” has provided the Waitt Institute and the MEPA Trust with a grant of just under USD 15,000 to support Barbuda Relief Efforts. These resources are raised through events and auctions of art work. The funds are used to provide subsidized ferry transport for Barbudans to and from Barbuda, cleanup efforts on the island, care advocates program, tutoring programs for the Barbudan children, fish pot materials, reconnection of utilities in each home, subsidized meals for the workers and much more.
Besides benefiting the people of Barbuda with the use of these resources, the MEPA Trust is also supporting the recovery actions in the Codrington Lagoon National Park, an area that encompasses the entire west coast of Barbuda. The Lagoon has breached with the impact of the hurricane and there is still a significant amount of debris to be removed from the park.
The MEPA Trust was established 22 May 2015 and since then it has been structuring its governance, staff and operations. Just before the Hurricane, in June 2017 the Fund signed a Partnership Agreement with the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) in June 2017. This puts them in a good position to support the Barbuda relief actions. These were among MEPA’s first managed projects. In 2018, MEPA will launch its first call for proposals with resources provided by the CBF.