Cuba: Post hurricanes plan of action, Oct 2008

Originally published


In less than a month, between 16 August and 10 September 2008, the Island of Cuba was hit by two tropical hurricanes and two tropical storms. Three of them affected municipalities in the east as well as in west of the Island. The fourth affected the eastern areas due to the great amount of rain it generated.

In order to avoid human suffering, three million people were evacuated, approximately 28% of the total population of the country. Many of them found shelters in houses of friends and relatives and 500,000 were provided with temporary shelters.

The damage and consequences of the events impacted the living conditions of the affected population, more than 500,000 homes were damaged and/or destroyed representing 14% occupancy rate in Cuba. Nearly 113,000 hectares of crops were damaged, resulting in lost harvested crops, agricultural tools, and food storage facilities, approximately 53,000 tonnes of food lost. Significant damage to the infrastructure systems has been reported. Damage to the electric energy distribution system, school installations, health care centres, environmental and patrimony systems has also been reported. Losses amount to US$15 billion, almost 10% of the Gross Internal Product. All this devastation, halfway through the hurricane season, necessitated immediate assistance and the provision of basic products and services for the affected population. The national Government took charge of the significantly high needs, with response actions and the beginning of the recovery process, though its relevant institutions.

The United Nations System, in support of the initial response, contributed with $8.7 million, resources made available by the different UN Agencies through their Emergency Funds and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In order to complete the immediate response phase and support the early recovery activities, the UN Agencies have designed the Plan of Action post-hurricanes. The Plan of Action puts together sector actions, of the different UN Agencies and their respective partners/counterparts, through specific projects which intend to alleviate the basic needs of the population and to promote the recovery of their livelihoods in a period of 12 months.

The Ministry for the Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation (MINVEC) will act as the national counterpart in the implementation of this Plan of Action, indistinctive of the UN Agency responsible for the execution of a project; thus, distinguishing MINVEC's leading role as the coordinator of the economic cooperation received in Cuba and its implementation.

The Plan of Action requires $30 million for execution of both phases: immediate response and early recovery. The immediate response phase (approximate duration of six months) requires $13.8 million and the early recovery phase (duration of up to 12 months) requires $16.2 million. The immediate response funds will be administered through the mechanisms established by OCHA or those established by the different UN Agencies. The early recovery funds will be channelled by the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) to the different UN Agencies, through the Resident Coordinator. The UN Agencies will also mobilize internal resources for the implementation of early recovery projects.