Reconstruction of St Maarten
On 6 September 2017, the islands of St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius were hit by hurricane Irma. St Maarten was particularly badly affected. Many homes and a large amount of infrastructure were destroyed. The Netherlands provided emergency aid for the period until 30 November 2017, after which it began contributing to the reconstruction of St Maarten. As an autonomous country, St Maarten itself is responsible for this reconstruction programme.
The Netherlands’ role in the reconstruction
The Netherlands has set aside €550 million for the reconstruction of St Maarten. It has set two conditions for providing this aid:
the establishment of an Integrity Chamber;
improved border controls.
Part of this money is intended for direct support. The majority (a maximum of €470 million), however, is administered by the World Bank. A trust fund has been set up for this purpose. The funds are being released in tranches.
At the end of 2017, the Netherlands made a direct contribution of €7 million to be used for projects that could be started rapidly and achieve immediate results for residents. These were known as ‘early recovery projects’ and they included:
- repairs to the homes of elderly people;
- restoring facilities for people with chronic illnesses and disabilities;
- assistance for children and young people.
The World Bank’s role in the reconstruction
The World Bank administers part of the Dutch contribution (a maximum of €470 million) via a trust fund. The World Bank is helping St Maarten draw up a reconstruction plan, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP).
The trust fund is being used to set up various projects, all of which must meet the requirements set by the World Bank. This ensures that the money is used properly and fairly.
The amount of €470 million is being released in tranches. €262 million has already been allocated to projects, such as:
- making the island more resilient to hurricanes;
- repairing water and electricity mains;
- repairing the airport;
- providing training programmes and support for people who lost their jobs as a result of the hurricane.
- repairing and expanding the hospital;
- setting up a sustainable waste-processing operation;
- providing financial aid to small and medium-sized enterprises.