Washington, D.C. (June. 9, 2015) – In response to a request from the Government of Belize, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) announced a new climate change adaptation program funded by the Government of Taiwan. The Coastal Community Resiliency initiative is a multi-phased, community-based project to help prepare and protect vulnerable populations in southern Belize from extreme weather and the effects of climate change.
With a grant from Taiwan, PADF will assist communities in Belize’s Stann Creek District in preparing for disasters through capacity building, the development of community-driven contingency plans, and the improvement and strengthening of early warning systems. The 13-month project in the town of Dangriga and the village of Hopkins will also focus on creating climate-resilient infrastructure and will undertake small-scale ecological restoration projects.
“PADF looks forward to working directly with communities in Stann Creek to assess their needs, establish contingency plans, and strengthen local preparedness mechanisms that will make coastal communities less vulnerable to hazards,” said Minerva Pinelo, PADF project director in Belize.
Belize Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, Nestor Mendez, highlighted the importance Taiwan’s assistance to his country. Taiwan has a longstanding history of providing support to Latin America and the Caribbean and will maintain its commitment through the promotion of community-based approaches to disaster preparedness in Belize.
“Taiwan has a successful history of providing development and disaster assistance,” said Ambassador Dr. Lyushun Shen of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US. “We are pleased to lend our support and mobilize resources to help communities in Belize and throughout the region prepare for natural disasters and the intensifying effects of climate change.”
Belize is a low-lying coastal nation that is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, as over forty percent of the country’s population lives on the coast. Rising sea levels, erosion, storms, flooding and the degradation of valuable marine environments threaten local residents. They also threaten the ecosystems that provide the majority of Belizeans their livelihoods. Marine environments are vital to Belize’s economy, which greatly depends on tourism, fisheries, and aquaculture. The Belize Coral Reef is the second-largest reef in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
PADF and Taiwan have been collaborating since 2012 to address emergencies and natural disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Ongoing partnerships between Taiwan and countries in the Caribbean Basin are key to preparing the region for future storms and empowering communities to protect their natural resources,” said PADF Executive Director John Sanbrailo.
The Taiwan-PADF Disaster Assistance and Reconstruction Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean is a five-year partnership to foster preparedness and mitigation programs. Community-based disaster preparedness programs have already been launched in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
PADF will work in close coordination with local public, private, civil society and academic entities, such as the University of Belize and the Belize Red Cross Society to implement project activities. PADF has implemented projects in Belize since the 1980s including microenterprise development; expanding cocoa production; donating hospital equipment; aiding victims of natural disasters, supporting civil society and social projects; and developing youth entrepreneurship.