Close to two decades after the Soufriere volcano in Montserrat erupted and caused more than half its population to flee and caused untold economic damage the small eastern Caribbean island is still struggling to recover.
Now, the board of directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved a country strategy outlining the Bank's programme of assistance to Montserrat for the period 2012-15.
In setting a context for the assistance, the CDB stated in its announcement that the series of volcanic eruptions since 1995 has destroyed much of the country's social and physical capital as 60 percent of its land area has been abandoned, and the population has dwindled to just under 5,000 persons.
The strategy reflects carefully considered interventions in critical sectors which offer significant poverty reducing or income generating potential. It will help the Government of Montserrat to deliver a range of outcomes. These include strengthening human capital; improving livelihoods in at-risk communities; broadening economic opportunities; and safeguarding development gains through improved disaster risk management practices. Gender will be a cross-cutting theme of the strategy.
In shaping the strategy, discussions were held with key officials in Montserrat, as well as principal development partners, in an effort to sharpen focus, avoid duplication and strengthen synergistic relationships, stated the CDB
CDB recognises the many constraints and risks facing the Government of Montserrat as it seeks to rebuild a vibrant, self-sustaining economy. It is the Bank's intention to work closely with Montserrat to harmonise initiatives, and to ensure that the limited resources are utilised to have the greatest impact on aiding the achievement of the country's long-term strategic goals, the regional financial institution concluded.