Almost four months since hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean islands, the return of some critical services remains slow in some countries. In Dominica, only around 10 per cent of people, mainly in the cities of Roseau and Portsmouth, have access to electricity, while in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) only one fifth of the population has restored power.
Due to extensive damages in houses and infrastructure in Barbados and Dominica, families were forced to seek shelter in neighboring islands. Over 900 people, including 169 children, still reside in official shelters, mainly in Antigua (Barbuda evacuees) and Dominica.
With partners, UNICEF has reached 100 per cent of the target population of 37,300 people in the five hurricane-impacted countries, supporting access to safe drinking water. Efforts continue to ensure that the approximately 12,000 children who are not yet benefitting from access to functional handwashing facilities and soap in schools and learning/safe spaces will soon benefit from these facilities.
In Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Island, almost 100 per cent of children are accessing education services. Dominica has made steady progress with 94 per cent of schools re-opened and some children accessing schools in temporary settings due to a shift in operations. Challenges are being encountered in monitoring school attendance and guaranteeing the quality of education due the lack of enough teaching and support materials in several schools.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
The year 2018 was ushered in with several pockets of the population in Anguilla, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Dominica and Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) struggling to get their lives back to normalcy following the devastating hurricanes of September 2017. Between 70 per cent (BVI) and 90 per cent (TCI) of the population in the hurricaneravaged countries benefitted from restored piped water in their homes, but the situation with electricity and landline communication remains in a more critical state. In the mountainous country of Dominica, less than 10 per cent of the population has been reconnected to the power grid, while more than 75 per cent of people in BVI and a third of the population in TCI remain without electricity.
Almost all children in the affected countries have been able to resume education, but in many instances, especially in BVI and Dominica, schooling continues to be in temporary shelters and with a shift system being implemented. Across the islands the full target of 18,000 primary and secondary school-aged children and adolescents has been able to return to classrooms, while around 19,400 of the targeted 25,000 children are attending pre-schools, primary and secondary schools equipped with pedagogical/recreational material. The focus is now on expanding access for children under five to pre-schools/day care centres with trained Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners, as only 45 per cent of this vulnerable targeted population is currently covered.
Barbuda, which was evacuated following the devastation left in the path of Hurricane Irma, remains largely uninhabited despite efforts of the Antigua and Barbuda Government to encourage the return of the 1,600 residents of the island. Fewer than 100 people, including an unconfirmed number of children, have resettled on the island resulting in Government opening more long-term shelter facilities in Antigua.