SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Expanding its efforts to directly support local communities, St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) is forging a new partnership with Dutch humanitarian aid agency Cordaid.
The partnership, will see SMDF and Cordaid providing financing for various projects throughout St. Maarten. “SMDF and Cordaid’s relationship began almost immediately after the passing of hurricane Irma and over the past few months we have been working jointly to create contextualized projects that will benefit St. Maarten,” said SMDF Program and Development Manager Makhicia Brooks.
In the days after hurricane Irma, Cordaid provided much needed tarpaulins for residents, using community councils to reach some 200 households. In working with these councils, Cordaid saw the possibilities for community centered disaster preparedness projects.
Like Cordaid, SMDF also sees the intrinsic value of community organizations. “In the aftermath of hurricane Irma, we all saw the importance of these organizations as they became the avenues to get supplies to residents,” said Brooks.
She further explained that while SMDF and Cordaid are both hoping that the island will be spared this hurricane season, both organizations are preparing for a worst-case scenario where community mobilization will be extremely important.
Following Cordaid’s global commitment to implementing via local partnerships, Cordaid is partnering with SMDF as the local implementing agency. The partnership, which was described as a win-win-win, will be carried out over a three-month period.
“Through this project, Cordaid will continue its mission to respond to humanitarian crises as they arise, SMDF will be able to implement community improvement projects and a number of communities will see improvements to their environments,” said Cordaid humanitarian aid Program Manager Dilanga Manuweera.
The projects, all of which were proposed by the community organizations of these areas, will begin this coming week. The projects will include repairs to the Dutch Quarter Community Center, installing of a generator at Belvedere Community Center, placement of Crisis Containers in South Reward and the drilling of a well in Ebenezer.
“Cordaid prioritizes working through local organizations to enable community-driven development and as such, we want to empower these local communities to be vehicles of St. Maarten’s recovery and future resilience,” said Manuweera.
This resiliency will be the focus this coming weekend when Cordaid and SMDF will host disaster preparedness workshops for community-based organizations. The workshops, which will be held at the University of St. Martin (USM), will provide valuable tools for risk assessment, community mobilization and disaster preparedness and response.
“While some question the value of these organizations, SMDF sees their significance and we choose to invest in these institutions to strengthen their capacities,” continued Brooks.
With a packed week ahead, Cordaid and SMDF are forging the path for inclusive, collaborative development on St. Maarten. “Having Dilanga here for the kick-off shows Cordaid’s commitment to these projects and to St. Maarten,” stated Brooks.
Though this is a new partnership, Brooks and Manuweera see it growing in the future as the two organizations are planning to continue programming with Cordaid’s Resilience department to execute larger community driven projects in the near future.