By Alexis R. Milan
Belize is receiving a grant from the Taiwanese government to fund a Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) climate change adaptation program.
The program is designed to help prepare and protect communities in southern Belize from extreme weather and the effects of climate change.
With the grant from Taiwan, PADF will assist communities in the Stann Creek district to prepare 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,” Minerva Pinelo, PADF project director in Belize said.
Belize Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Nestor Mendez, at the ceremony, highlighted the importance of Taiwan’s assistance to the country and the beneficial impact it will have.
Ambassador Dr. Lyushun Shen of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US said “Taiwan has a successful history of providing development and disaster assistance and 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.”
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,” PADF executive director John Sanbrailo said.
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.