The UK’s commitment to relief and reconstruction in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria continued this week, with the announcement by the International Development Secretary that William Bullard, a former Diageo executive awarded for his humanitarian work, will coordinate a private sector Task Force to ensure business plays a prominent role in the reconstruction in the Caribbean.
In a speech made on Friday at the World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, International Development Secretary Priti Patel announced that the Task Force will identify and drive forward practical ways of increasing flows of private sector financial support to reconstruction in the region.
Bullard, the former corporate relations senior vice president at Diageo, was awarded Humanitarian of the Year 2013 by the International Red Cross in South Florida for his leadership of Learning for Life, Diageo’s flagship social re-investment programme.
“It is a privilege to try and contribute to the rebuilding efforts; my first task will be to bring a small number of business leaders together, and tap into their expertise and knowledge of the Caribbean, to see where and how, working together, they believe business and government can make 1+1=3 in the efforts to rebuild businesses and the economies damaged as a result of the storms,” Bullard said.
The UK government has already committed over £62 million towards the immediate relief effort, and DFID is matching public commitments to the British Red Cross Appeal up to £3m. The £62 million includes a £5 million UK aid package for Dominica, the island worst hit by Hurricane Maria.
Thirty-six UK aid staff are currently based in the region, working with the UN, Red Cross and partners on the ground to distribute aid, as well as supporting the Pan-American Health Organisation to provide emergency healthcare, safe water and sanitation, and manage disease outbreaks.
To date, 613 tonnes of much-needed humanitarian aid have arrived in the region, including:
- 6.8 tonnes of food
- 36.9 tonnes of water
- 4,710 DFID Shelter Kits
- 16,500 buckets
- nearly 6,000 hygiene kits, containing essential items such as soap and torches