Caribbean

Richard Branson to bring ‘Marshall Plan’ to devastated Caribbean after hurricanes 

23.10.17

Business mogul Richard Branson is bringing a team together to tackle the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean.

Category 5 winds and rains over the past two months has resulted in thousands of structures being destroyed, leaving tens of thousands of people struggling to meet basic needs. The two devastating hurricanes ravaged the Eastern Caribbean displacing many from their homes and knocking out power and potable water systems.

Now, the business magnate, investor and philanthropist is assembling a team to head up a ‘Marshall Plan’ – a bid to fund and help with the recovery - for the Caribbean. This idea was formed after he waited out the storm in his home on the British Virgin Islands and felt the impact of the storm first hand.

“Irma unleashed the most ferocious winds I’ve ever seen in my life, and it was truly heart-breaking to see the full extent of the devastation across the entire community once the storm had passed,” Branson says.

Following the disaster Branson was invited to Washington by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery and the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction to talk about recovery from the hurricanes and putting together a ‘Marshall Plan’

The World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank have agreed to fund the plan together and Branson is now in the process of putting a small team in place to move forward.

He is advocating for buildings homes able to withstand sustained and catastrophic hurricane-force winds over longer periods of time and distributing power grids that don’t break down and can be repaired quickly.

Branson said, “Tens of thousands continue to be without shelter, or access to clean and safe drinking water. These urgent needs must be met, and they must be met quickly. This year’s hurricane season is not over yet, and another storm could strike in the coming weeks.”

In addition to improving resilience through better systems, Branson has called for diversified energy supplies in the interest of the economy, and pointed to the fact that when Jamaica reduced electricity costs a few years ago, it quickly moved up 27 positions on the World Bank’s global Doing Business ranking.

“I have on various occasions called for a ‘Marshall Plan for the Caribbean’ a commitment from governments, multilaterals, and investors to provide the financing and the guarantees needed to empower Caribbeans to shape their own future and rebuild their nations,” Branson said.

“I think the consensus is that it’s got to be a ‘Marshall Plan for a greener, resilient Caribbean.’ We mustn’t lose any time to make this happen.”

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